Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

including those of Missouri

, for James Monroe, president, and two hundred and eighteen for Daniel D. Tompkins, vice president, and declared them duly elected.

Mr. Monroe's administration during his first presidential term, abating something for the disappointment of expectants of office, had given universal satisfaction. No organized opposition had arisen ; the people of the United States seemed to take a pleasure and pride in rallying round the standard of their government. The bold and dignified manner in which he expressed the national sentiment on the subject of European interference in the affairs of America, gained him high applause. No disputes of any magnitude had arisen with any nation except Spain, and those had been brought to a termination highly honorable and advantageous to the United States. The pecuniary embarrassments consequent on the conclusion of the late war had in a great measure ceased, and the various kinds of business had resumed a regular course and fallen into their wonted channels. The progress of improvement in wealth, industry, and enterprize, had been rapid. Four new states had been added to the union. indian hostilities and depredations had been punished in a manner calculated to prevent their repetition. Settlements on the government lands had rapidly increased: and sixty-seven millions of the public debt extinguished. It being a generally acknowledged principle in the American government, from which there had been but one departure, that the same person should hold the office of president for two successive terms. Mr. Monroe's re-election was a matter of course, and, with the exception of two votes, unanimous.

On the fourth of March the president elect was inst led into office with the ceremonies usual on such occasions. All that the constitution requires, is, that he should take the official oath at the hands of some proper magistrate; custom had entitled the people, who might choose to witness this ceremony, to expect an inaugural speech.

When a new president is elected, this is considered as a favorable opportunity for an exposition of the principles of his administration, and has been

uniformly improved for that purpose. But this is not at all requisite or proper where there is only a re-election, unless a change of measures is contemplated. This custom in the present instance im. posed an arduous task on the president elect. On his first elevation to office he had fully explained his views on the subject of conducting the national concerns; the uniform

tenor of his conduct had supported them. He contemplated no change of measures. The prominent facts of his past administration were well known; it was not proper for him to recapitulate or eulogize them. Being more a man of business than an orator, he was not calculated to figure on this occasion before a popular assembly. Not however to disappoint the expectations of a brilliant audience, he made an address detailing in a plain, unostentatious manner, the principal incidents of his administration, in relation to the measures of defence, negotiations with foreign pow. ers, and the progress of improvement; all of which had been previously communicated to congress, and were familiar to his audience. It was a valuable state paper, deve. loping the strength, resources, and prospects of the country, better adapted to the hall of a legislative assembly, than to a promiscuous audience assembled to witness an inauguration.

CHAPTER XII.

Forty-fifth anniversary of American independence-Mr. Adams' address on

the occasion-Death of Napoleon-Diplomatic discussions with France, on the Louisiana treaty, on landing goods on the St Mary's—General Jackson appointed governor oi the Floridas_Takes possession-Treatment of governors Cavalla and Coppinger-Dispute with Judge Fromentin on the civil privileges of the Floridians—Banishment of Spanish officers-General Jackson's reasons for his conduct—Plea of necessity-Manner in which it is considered-General law passed for the government of the Floridas Principles adopted by the United States, in relation to colonial acquisitions compared with the European system.

Forty-fifth anniversary. The 45th anniversary of Ameri. can independence, 4th of July, 1821, was celebrated with more than usual eclat. The birth-day of the nation has been noticed with more or less celebrity in the principal cities and villages in the United States from the first. This has had a happy tendency to cherish a national spirit, and has afforded an opportunity for successive orators, patriots, and politicians, to call to mind the daring deeds of their fathers, to notice with a be. coming pride the progress of American principles, first brought into view by the revolution, and point to the means of perpetuating the greatness and glory of America. The continued prosperity of the country, the acquisition of the Floridas, the establishment of the boundaries beyond the Missisippi, which gave to the United States a territory commensurate to their most enlarged desires, the submission of the Indian tribes, the almost unexampled unanimity of the presidential election, and the progressive extinction of party spirit, were subjects of universal congratulation.

Mr. Adams' address. The citizens of Washington were entertained with an address from the secretary of state, who brought forth from the archives of his office and read to the assembly, the original declaration of independence. The facts which led to the birth of the nation, and conducted it to its present high rank, though familiar, would well bear repeating on this occasion ; and the service was performed in an appropriate manner. Tasks of this description have usually been assigned to persons holding less dignified stations. It was unusual to see the second officer in the go. vernment acting the orator on this holiday occasion ; the performance, however, proved the speaker to be the orator, and scholar, as well as the statesman, and ranked among the first which the day produced.

Death of Bonaparte. This year was distinguished by the death of one of the greatest men of modern times. Napoleon Bonaparte died at St. Helena, May 5th, 1821. The disorder which ended his days was a cancer on the liver, occasioned no doubt by the climate, and the gloom produced by his misfortunes. The severity with which he was treated, and the strict watch which it was deemed necessary to prevent his escape, were sources of his constant complaint. The more candid of his friends imputed his death to this cause; others suggested, but without foundation, that his keepers resorted to more efficacious means to hasten the event. His death relieved England from the expense of a million sterling annually, and the hereditary monarchs of Europe from any immediate apprehensions of another encroachment on their dynasties. It also enabled the Americans to enjoy the privilege of touching at St. Helena for refreshman in their East India trade, which was secured to them by the treaty of Ghent, but suspended during Bonaparte's residence on the island.

Disputes with France. A diplomatic controversy of some asperity arose between the French and American governments, in relation to the construction of the 8th article of the Louisiana treaty. By the 7th it was provided that, for the term of twelve years, the vessels of France and Spain should be admitted into the ports of the ceded territory, without paying any higher impost and tonnage duties than were paid by vessels of the United States ; and the 8th stipulated that after the expiration of that period, the vessels of France should be admitted upon the footing of the most favored nation. The navigation act of 1820 had made a proposition to all nations, to admit their vessels into the ports of the United States, when laden with the productions of the country to which they belonged, without paying any other duties, than such as were payable by American vessels, provided the favor should be reciprocated. This proposition had been accepted by Great Britain, in relation to her European dominions, and most of the continental powers, except France—she claimed the privilege of being placed on this footing, in regard to the ports of Louisiana, without rendering the equivalent. This was denied by the American government, and a commercial warfare of countervailing and prohibiting duties commenced, which for a time, nearly suspended the direct intercourse between the two nations.

About the same period, though unconnected with this claim, another subject of diplomatic discussion arose between the two governments. During the time which intervened between the ratification of the Florida treaty and the occupation of the territory by the government of the United States, some French adventurers, for the purpose of evading the revenue laws, had sent several vessels, laden with merchandize, adapted to the American markets, up the St. Mary's, the boundary between the United States and the ceded territory, and landed them in an uninhabited region on the Florida side, with an evident intention of smuggling them into the United States. One of the vessels was seized, and the goods and the other vessels removed from the river by direction of the president. A serious attempt was made on the part of France, to treat this as a violation of the rights of Frenchmen. The minister of that power remonstrated against the proceeding, and claimed satisfaction for his countrymen. After a discussion of some length, the claims were abandoned, and a commercial convention formed on terms of reciprocity.

Possession of the Floridas. In pursuance of a law passed at the close of the last session of congress, providing for the temporary government of the Floridas, according to the laws then existing in those provinces, and authorizing the president to take possession, on the 7th of March he appointed General Jackson governor of the territory, and vested him with the powers formerly exercised by the Spanish governors. Elijeus Fromentin was appointed chief justice. The powers vested in the governor, were, from the necessity of the case, congress not having had time to frame a system of laws for the territory, discretionary and undefined. The Spanish authorities reluctantly yielded their respective commands, on the 22d of August, the last day allowed by the treaty for that purpose, manifesting a disposition to embarrass the operations of the new government, as much as lay in their power.

Conduct of the Spanish officers. By the terms of the treaty, all the archives and public papers were to be given up with the province. Four documents relating to the rights of property, in West Florida, were withheld by Governor Cavalla, claiming that they did not come within the purview of the treaty. After a specific demand, an armed force was sent to seize the papers, and bring Don Cavalla

« ZurückWeiter »