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firmness and sustained a high character among the diplomatic corps at the British court.*
The relations of the United States with France continued a subject of anxiety. The treaty negotiated with England by Mr. Jay, and the president's proclamation of neutrality, were regarded with much disfavor by the French government, and they issued several decrees by which American vessels were confiscated, in violation of the treaty of commerce. The president being dissatisfied with the course of Mr. Monroe, the American minister to France, in not urging the rights of his countrymen with sufficient vigor, he was recalled, as already stated, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney appointed in his place. Mr. Monroe was very popular in France, and on taking his leave of the government, mutual addresses were delivered. The address of the president of the directory, expressing his regret at parting with Mr. Monroe, was calculated to flatter the people of the United States, while it severely censured their government. Mr. Pinckney was permitted to reside at Paris until about the first of February, 1797, when the French directory gave him written orders to quit the territories of the republic, and he retired to Holland.
The third election of president engaged the national attention after the adjournment of Congress. General Washington was earnestly solicited to be a candidate for re-election, but positively declined. In September, 1796, he announced his intention to the people in his memorable “ Farewell Address.”+ In this document he made a last effort to impress upon his countrymen those great political truths which had been the guides of his own administration, and could alone, in his opinion, form a sure and solid basis for the happiness, the independence, and the liberty of the United States.
The sentiments of veneration with which this address was generally received, were manifested in almost every part of the Union. Some of the state legislatures directed it to be inserted at large in their journals; and nearly all of them passed resolutions expressing their respect for the president, their high sense of his exalted services, and the emotions with which they contemplated his retirement from office. I
When this address appeared, announcing the resolution of Washington to retire, the determination of his fellow-citizens had been unequivocally manifested in favor of his continuance in office, and it was believed to be apparent, that his election would again be unanimous, if he had consented to serve for a third term.
The two great parties in the United States were now at once arrayed against each other on the question of the presidential election. By the federalists, Mr. John Adams and Mr. Thomas Pinckney, the late minister to Great Britain, were, supported as president and vice-president; while the whole force of the opposite party was exerted in favor of Mr. Jefferson. • Pitkin. | See page 69.
On the subject of vice-president, the republicans, or democrats, were not united. The result of the election was as follows: John Adams, 71 ; Thomas Jefferson, 68; Thomas Pinckney, 59; Aaron Burr, 30; Samuel Adams, 15; Oliver Ellsworth, 11 ; George Clinton, 7; John Jay, 5; James Iredell, 3 ; George Washington, 2 ; J. Henry, 2; S. Johnson, 2 ; Charles C. Pinckney, 1. Total number of electoral votes, 138—each elector voting for two persons. Mr. Adams was therefore elected president, and Mr. Jefferson vice-president, for four years from the fourth of March, 1797.
In November, while the election was pending, and parties were so nearly balanced that neither scale could be perceived to preponderate, the French minister to this country, Mr. Adet, addressed a letter to the secretary of state, which he also caused to be immediately published in the newspapers, reproaching the federal administration with violating those treaties with France which had secured the independence of the United States, with ingratitude to France, and with partiality to England. Mr. Adet also announced the orders of his government to suspend his ministerial functions with that of the United States. This suspension of his functions, however, was not to be regarded as a rupture between France and the United States, but as a mark of just discontent, which was to last until the government of the United States returned to sentiments and to measures more conformable to the interests of the alliance, and to the sworn friendship between the two nations."
Whatever motives might have impelled Mr. Adet to make this open and direct appeal to the American people, in the critical moment of their election of a chief magistrate, it does not appear in any material degree to have influenced that election.
On the 7th of December, 1796, Washington met Congress for the last time. His address was comprehensive, temperate, and dignified. It presented a full and clear view of the situation of the United States, and recommended certain great national measures in the utility of which he felt a confidence ; concluding with his congratulations on the success of the experiment of the form of government under the constitution, and his prayers for its perpetuity.
The answers of both houses to this speech, notwithstanding the conflict of parties, were adopted nearly unanimously. Both expressed their grateful sense of the eminent services he had rendered his country, their extreme regret at his retiring from office, and their ardent wishes for his future personal happiness. Perfect unanimity, however, did not prevail in the house of representatives. Mr. Giles, of Virginia, said: “If he stood alone in the opinion, he would declare that he was not convinced that the administration of the government for these six years, had been wise and firm. He did not regret the president's retiring from office. He hoped he would retire, and enjoy the happiness that awaited his retirement. He believed it would more conduce to that happiness that he
should retire, than if he should remain in office.” In this opinion of Mr. Giles, only eleven.concurred, and with him voted against the answer.
On the 19th of January, 1797, the president, agreeably to the intimation in his speech at the opening of the session, communicated to Congress the state of the relations of the country with the French republic. It contained not only an able review, but an ample refutation of the various charges made by France, as well as a complete justification of the conduct of President Washington toward that nation. This exposition, however, created no change in the conduct of France, and produced little effect on the parties in America.
On the 4th of March, 1797, the administration of President Washington closed—a period to which he had looked forward with inexpressible pleasure. After witnessing the inauguration of his successor, he withdrew from Philadelphia to Mount Vernon, to spend the remainder of his days in retirement.
During his administration, all the disputes between the United States and foreign nations had been adjusted, with the exception of those of France; at home, public and private credit was restored—ample provision made for the security and ultimate payment of the public debt-commerce had experienced unexampled prosperity-American tonnage had nearly doubled—the products of agriculture had found a ready marketthe exports had increased from nineteen millions to more than fifty-six millions of dollars—the imports in about the same proportion-and the amount of revenues from imports had exceeded the most sanguine calculations. The prosperity of the country had been, indeed, without example, notwithstanding great losses from belligerent depredations. I
At this day, the conduct and character of Washington are spoken of with respect and veneration by most men. We have seen several sorts of administration of public affairs since his time; it is not too soon to consid calmly and dispassionately, the worth of that conducted by him.
To the high responsibility of giving motion and effect to the new system, among discordant elements, it was the lot of Washington to be called.
Was it right or wrong to provide for the payment of the public debt, justly called “the price of liberty ?"* Who can answer in the negative ? Not to have done what was done, would have been injustice, for which there could have been no palliation.
Was Washington's administration right or wrong toward France and England, during their vindictive and exterminating war? Surely, the true policy of this country was strict neutrality. To preserve this, the most forbearing and conciliatory measures were adopted toward each ; ministers were sent, and instructions given, to show that the United States were, and meant to be, neutral. To the last hour of his administration, • Pitkin.
Washington persisted in his neutrality, and was able to countervail the popular clamor in favor of France.
In the discretionary exercise of executive power, the Washington administration was wise and talented. In filling offices, the president preferred, when he could, the revolutionary chiefs, of whose integrity and ability he had ample proofs. No one will say that such men did not deserve the honors and emoluments of office, which their own perilcus efforts helped to establish. He displaced no man for the expression of his opinion, even in the feverish excitement of French delusion.
With regard to all other foreign governments; the judiciary; the national bank; the Indian tribes; the mint; in his deportment to his own ministers; his communications to Congress; his construction of the constitution ; his sacred regard for it; his devotion to the whole Union; his magnanimity and forbearance ; his personal dignity; in all these, and in relation to all other subjects, how great and honorable was his example !"