« ZurückWeiter »
REPLY OF PRESIDENT ADAMS To the Legislature of Vermont.
Gentlemen, Your address of the 24th of Oct. has been forwarded to me, as you desired, by his excellency Isaac Tichenor, your worthy governor. ‘Among all the addresses which have been presented to me, from communities, corporations, towns, cities, and legislatures, there has been none more acceptable to me, or which has affected my sensibility or commanded my gratitude more than this very sentimental compliment from the State of Vermont; a state, which, within my memory, that the federalists wished to press their opponents into avowed antagonism to the government; and the opposition party was quite as ready to put the burden of the alien and sedition acts upon the federalists-a stroke of party policy which promised to be very efficient at that time, as public sentiment and sympathy in western Vermont were then very strong in favor of their imprisoned congressman, Matthew Lyon. The result answered their expectation. In September 1798, Lyon failed of an election, but in December he received a large majority. This favor to Lyon was founded rather on a jealous zeal for the liberty of speech and the press than for the man personally, and the following account of Lyon's reception on the expiration of his sentence, is worthy of preservation, as a protest of the people against political persecution. It was contributed to the Rutland Herald, a few months ago, by the Hon. RosWELL BOTTOM of Orwell, who doubtless had his facts from Mr. Austin and others who were prominent in the matter.
At the time of his [Lyon's] imprisonment in Vergennes under the odious sedition law, passed by Congress during the Federal administration of John Adams, when he had stayed out in prison the term of his commitment of four months, and nothing remained but the payment of his thousand dollar fine to entitle him to his liberty, it was feared that the marshal of the State, whose sympathies and preferences were strongly with the Federal party, and against Lyon, would stickle about receiving for the fine any other than money that was of legal tender, and in that case it might be difficult to procure the specie. Most of the gold then in circulation was of foreign coin which passed at an uncertain value according to its weight, which often varied by different weighers, and was, therefore, not a legal tender. It was known that Mr. Lyon, while in prison, had issued frequent publications, therein freely discussing and sometimes censuring the measures of the federal administration, and that if any pretext could be made for continuing his imprisonment and thereby prevent his taking his seat in Congress, to which he had been re-elected while in prison, the marshal would not hesitate to resort to it. It was further ascertained that if the fine was paid, the marshal intended to re-arrest him for his subsequent publications. Therefore, to secure his liberty so that he could take his seat in Congress, which had already convened, Mr. Apollos Austin, a resident citizen of Orwell, and a man of wealth, at his own expense and trouble procured the thousand dollars in silver dollars, and on the day that Mr. Lyon's confinement expired, Mr. Austin, with the entire body of the Republicans in Orwell, nearly every man, went to Vergennes, where a like spirit brought together some thousands of the Republicans from other parts of the district and State, in order probably to overawc the authorities from re-ar
has been converted from a wilderness to a fruitful field. Knowing, as I do, your origin and progress, the brave, hardy, industrious, and temperate character of the people, the approbation of their representatives, their attachment to the constitution, and determination to support the government, are the more to be esteemed.
While we truly consider government as the association of the honest, the pious, and the peaceable, to protect themselves from the wickedness of the dishonest, the impious and unruly, we should never forget, that government at the same time ought to protect the dishonest, the impious and unruly, not only from the fraud and fury of each other, but from the errors and weaknesses of the honest and pious.
There is too much truth in your observation, that the most excellent governments have had their archives disgraced with impediments of opposition and frequent insurrections. The true cause of it is, that while the honest and pious are always disposed to submit to good government and choose the mildest, the dishonest and impious take advantage of the feeble restraint, to commit mischief, because it can be done with impunity. This in course introduces the necessity of severe curbs for the wicked, and then the sordid animal becomes too tame under the curb, the lash and the spur. While a tenderness of blood and a respect for human life is preserved among the people, however, there is not much danger, even from tumults. This maxim preserved the Romans who for four hundred years never shed the blood of a man in sedition. An example worthy the contemplation and imitation of all other republics.
The French have rendered it impossible for us to follow them in their notions and projects of government, or to submit to their arbitrary conduct and extravagant exactions to us : we must therefore defend ourselves against all they can attempt.
It is not possible for my fellow citizens to say any thing more glorious or delightful to me, than that they regard me, because they love their country.
JOHN ADAMS. Philadelphia, Nov. 30th, 1798.1 resting. Mr. Austin was not permitted, however, to pay the money lie had brought. All claimed the privilege of bearing a part, and one dollar each was the maximum they would allow any one individual to pay. One gentleman from North Carolina, a staunch Republican, so zealously anxious for the release of Mr. Lyon from prison, that he might take his seat in Congress, at that time nearly equally divided by the two great political parties, came all the way on horseback from North Carolina with the ihousand dollars in gold to pay the fine; supposing that as Vermont was then new, and comparatively poor, the resources of the people were not sufficiently ample to meet the exigency.* Having paid the tine. the friends of Mr. Lyon immediately took him into a sleigh, followed and preceded by a concourse of teams loaded with the political friends of Lyon, which reached from Vergennes as they traversed Otter creek upon the ice nearly to Middlebury, from which place a large number continued to bear him compary to the State line at Hampton, New York, where they took leave of him and wished him God speed on to Congress. * * * The weak measures pursued by the Federal party against Mr. Lyon, and the odium that was everywhere felt against that abominable alien and sedition act passed by that Federal Congress, doubtless tended very greatly to change the parties of our State, which soon followed those proceedings, and perhaps had an intluence over the whole country.
Note by the editor of this rolume.-Stevens Thomson Mason, U.S. Senator from Virginia, donbtless is the person referred to. His money seems to have been used to pay the fine. See letter of
From the Vermont Gazette of Dec. 27 1798.
thanks to him in the Vermont Gazette of March 28 1739.
ADDRESS TO PRESIDENT JEFFERSON—1801.' Sir,- Although we are by no means fond of formal addresses to any of our rulers, yet, as the practice has already obtained, our silence on the present auspicious occasion might be falsely interpreted into an indifference toward your person, your political opinions, or your administration. We take, therefore, this earliest opportunity to assure you that we love and admire the federal constitution, not merely because it is the result and display of the collected wisdom of our own country, but especially because its principles are the principles of liberty, both civil and religious, and of the rights of man. We contemplate the general government as “the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad.” We sincerely respect all the constituted authorities of our country. We regard the Presidency with a cordial attachment and profound respect. But, Sir, we do not regard you merely as the dignitied functionary of this august office. That you are an American, both in birth and principle, excites in us sensations of more exalted pleasure. We revere your talents, are assured of your patriotism, and rely on your fidelity. More than this-our hearts, in union with your own, reverberate the political opinions you have been pleased to announce in your inaugural speech. Having said this, we need not add that you may assure yourself of our constant and faithful support, while you carry into effect your own rules of government.
Your disposition, expressed in plainly delineating in your inaugural address, and in a particular instance of a more recent date, the chart by which you propose to direct the course of the political ship, on board of which we have embarked the best of our temporal interests, invites a reciprocity of communication. Under this indulgence, we are constrained to express some of our most ardent wishes.
May the general government draw around the whole nation such lines of defence as shall prove forever impassable to every foreign foe. May it secure to the several states, as well the reality, as the form of republican government. May it ever respect those governments as the most “ competent for our domestic concerns, and cherish them as the truest bulwarks against anti republican tendencies,” and effectually protect them against any possible encroachments on each other. May it effectually extend to us, and to every individual of our fellow citizens, all that protection to which the state governments may be found incompetent. While it thus defends us against ourselves and all the world, may it leave every individual to the free pursuit of his own object in his own way. May the means of defraying the expence necessarily incurred by these measures, be drawn from all the inhabitants, in as just proportion to their respective ability as is possible. May your administration be found, on experiment, to be effectually instrumental in adapting all the subordinate ottices of government to the real accommodation of the great public, and of annexing such a precise compensation to the discharge of every trust, as shall invite the ready acceptance of modest ability, and distinguished merit; while the avaricious, the ambitious, and the luxurious, shall see in it no allurement. And may no one description of citizens be favored at the expence of any other.
Liberty herself demands these restrictions : and these indulgences are all she asks.
Thus administered, our government will stand fast on the surest basis,
Printed Assembly Journal, 1801, pp. 215–218. Adopted by yeas and nays, 86 to 59.
that of public opinion; nor will it need the mercenary support of any privileged class of men, however intluential they may be.
May he whose kingdom ruleth over all, direct and bless your whole adıninistration and yourself. REPLY OF PRESIDENT JEFFERSON.'
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 1801. Sir,-I received with great satisfaction, the address you have been pleased to enclose me from the House of Representatives of the Freemen of the State of Vermont. The friendly, and favorable sentiments, they are so good as to express towards myself, personally, are high encouragement to perseverence in duty, and call for my sincere thanks.
With them I join cordially in admiring and revering the constitution of the United States, the result of the collected wisdom of our country. That wisdom has committed to us the important task of proving by example, that a government, if organized in all its parts on the Representative principle, unadulterated by the infusion of spurious elements; if founded not in the fears and follies of man, but on his reason, on his sense of right; on the predominance of the social, over his dissocial passions; may be so free as to restrain him in no moral right, and so firm as to protect him from every moral wrong. To observe our fellow citizens gathering daily under the banners of this faith, devoting their powers to its establishment, and strengthening with their confidence the instruments of their selection, cannot but give new animation to the zeal of those, who, steadfast in the same beliet, have seen no other object worthy the labors and losses we have all encountered.
To draw around the whole nation the strength of the general government, as a barrier against foreign foes; to watch the borders of every State, that no external hand may intrude, or disturb the exercise of seligovernment, reserved to itself; to equalize and moderate the public contributions, that while the requisite services are invited by remuneration, nothing beyond this may exist, to attract the attention of our citizens, from the pursuits of useful industry, nor unjustly to burthen those who continue in those pursuits; these are functions of the general government, on which you have a right to call: They are in unison with those principles, which have met the approbation of the Representatives of Vermont, as announced by myself on the former and recent occasion alluded to. These shall be faithfully pursued, according to the plain and candid import of the expressions in which they were announced. No longer than they are so, will I ask that support, which, through you, has been so respectfully tendered me. And, I join in addressing him, whose kingdom ruleth over all, to direct the administration of their affairs to their own greatest good.
Praying you to be the channel of communicating these sentiments to the House of Representatives of the freemen of the State of Vermont, I beseech you to accept for yourself personally, as well as for them, the homage of my high respect and consideration. TH. JEFFERSON.
Amos Marsh, Esquire, Speaker of the House.)
Iluswell's Vermont Gazette of Jan. 4 1802.
ADDRESS TO PRESIDENT JEFFERSON-1803.1 To the President of the United States.
Sir,- Tho' opposed to frequent addresses to those who fill important stations in our government, yet there are times when it would be improper to refrain from expressing our grateful acknowledgments to the Ruler of the Universe for the prosperous situation of our common country, and our approbation of those who guide the helm of state. While we view the United States, individually and collectively-rapidly increasing in wealth and population, secured in the uninterrupted enjoyment of life, liberty and property, and almost without contention with any foreign nation; we cannot forbear congratulating you, sir, on the happy effects of those principles, put in operation, which have so frequently appeared in your official communications.
The late suspension of our right of deposit at New Orleans excited an universal spirit of indignation; a spirit which must convince the world that while we earnestly desire to maintain peace with the whole family of mankind, we will not tamely submit to injury or insult from any nation on earth.
While we contemplate the acquisition of an extensive and fertile territory, with the free navigation of the river Mississippi, we cannot but venerate that spirit of moderation and firmness, which among divided councils finally enriched our country without the effusion of blood: and it is with much satisfaction we learn from the highest authority, that no new taxes will be requisite for the completion of the payment for this valuable acquisition. Permit us then to tender to you, sir, our warmest thanks for the conspicuous part you have taken in this important arrangement.
We gratefully contemplate those humane and benevolent measures which civilize our once savage neighbors, and learn them to exchange their hostile weapons for the implements of agriculture and household manufacture.
We recognize with sentiments of esteem, that vigilance and parental care which has enlarged our territory by a negotiation with one of the friendly tribes of Indians.
From knowing that our maritime force is diminished, and that our trade is still protected, we obtain imposing proof, that vigilance and economy go hand in hand in the management of our governmental aflairs.
The flourishing state of our treasury demonstrates our growing greatness, and must convince every good citizen that the indecent and vilifying expressions too frequently uttered through the medium of the press against the administration of our government, must finally, with equal certainty as justice, revert on the authors.
Your advice to the house of representatives respecting our conduct towards the contending powers of Europe, merits our highest approbation.
From our own feelings, as well as from the general knowledge we possess of the sentiments of our constituents, you may be assured that the hardy sons of Vermont, though earnestly engaged in their peaceable pursuits, will be ready to fly, on the call of their country, at the risk of their lives, their fortunes and domestic felicity, to maintain their rights as an independent nation-preferring every consequence to insult and habitual wrong.
· Printed Vermont Assembly Journal, 1803, pp. 264–266.