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Full text of "Familiar letters on public characters ; and public events from the peace of 1783, to the peace of 1815"

Digitized by tine Internet Arcliive 

in 2008 witli funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



littp://www.arcli ive.org/details/familiarlettersOOsulluoft 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 
PUBLIC CHARACTERS, 



PUBLlb E 



iwN 



TS 



FROM THE 



PEACE OF 1783, TO T 



.^^ 

^f, pC^ 



V^ 



CE OF 1815. 



" By a comparison of a scries of the discourses^M acHjp^^f certain men, for a 
reasonable length of time, it is impossible not to obtain a sufficient indication of their 

views and principles." " It is against every prin^n^ of comrnon sense, to judge 

of a series of speeches and actions from the man, and^R oft^mar^xom the whole 
tenor of his language and conduct." {Excerpts, JVat. (Sk MpK^^^^QA.) 



■ There have been in the world but two systems, (* schoo: 
founded on the great principles of wisdom and rectitude ; 
its various artificrfT" John Jay. 



Tantumque abe^j ut aljuuam bonam gratiam mihi quaesisse videa 
simultatcs, partim olecuras, purtira apej-tas, ^intelligam railft n^ 
non inutili 



es, partim ciWcuras, pjirtira apej-tas^ ^intelligam mi 
lies suscepissSm Omtih pro lege Manilia. j 



• scnooTB^yi^C] 
^R ptqfrqj^^i 



cy ; the one 
nning and 




Itas etiam 
ias, vobis 



/^,t 






BOSTON: 
RUSSELL, ODIORNE, AND METCALF. 



1834. 



^' 



Entered Mcoming tothe act of Congress in the year 1834, 
X, byTVii.LiAM Sullivan, 



in the Clerk 



's (Mice of the Dis 



istrict Court of the District of Massachiisctts. 




CAMBRrOGE PRESS: 
METCALK, TORRY, AIVD BALLOU. 



INTRODUCTION 



Towards the close of his life, Mr. Jefferson prepared 
statements, seriously affecting the motives and conduct of 
a numerous class of his fellow-citizens. He intended to 
have these statements published after his decease. He 
seems to have expected, that they would be received as 
HISTORICAL TRUTHS, proceeding from high authority. 

If Mr. Jefferson has stated truths only, all who know 
the value of sound historical information are under great 
obligations to him. If he has stated "false facts," (as 
he calls them,) without intending to do so, he has in- 
creased the well-known difficulty of arriving at certainty, 
as to the past ; and his labors are worse than useless. If 
he has stated what he knew to be false, he has abused 
public confidence, and has dishonored his own fame. 

As most of those citizens, of whom he speaks reproach- 
fully, have become, like himself, insensible to earthly com- 
mendation, or censure, is it too soon to inquire, in which of 
the above mentioned relations Mr. Jefferson should be 
viewed 1 

It would be doing, it is hoped, great injustice to the 
American public to assume, that they are incompetent, or 
unwilling, to judge calmly and justly of historical truth, 
whatsoever it may prove to be, or whencesoever it may 
come- 
But, if the men of this day are so near to that time in 
which Mr. Jefferson was a conspicuous political agent, that 



IP \\ 



INTRODUCTION. 



prejudices must prevent a calm and righteous judgment, 
then the same posterity, to which Mr. Jefferson confidently 
appeals, must judge of him, and of those whom he has at- 
tempted to consign to their reproach and contempt. 

According to the words on the title page, " the views 
and principles" of Mr. Jefferson's political adversaries are 
to be known by " a comparison of a series of their discourses 
and actions." Mr. Jefferson is to be known, not " from 
his speeches and actions," but " from the whole tenor of his 
language and conduct." 

These " views and principles," and this " language and 
conduct," are set forth in the following pages, " for a 
reasonable length of time ; " that is, throughout one third 
of a century. 

The form adopted is, familiar letters, as these are better 
suited to the purpose than the ordinary form of History ; 
and because these admit of personal descriptions and par- 
ticular illustrations, which the " Memoirs and Writings of 
Thomas Jefferson " make indispensable. 

Boston, April 20, 1834, 



i 4 M 



PREFACE 

TO THE SECOND EDITION. 



Some time has been taken to learn what the public senti- 
ment might be on these letters ; and to ascertain what 
errors in facts might have occurred. All such errors have 
been corrected, so far as known ; and a better chronological 
order has been made. These were not the only objections, 
which have been noticed. Some cautious, sensitive per- 
sons disapprove of all inquiry into 3Ir. Jefferson's claims to 
gratitude and admiration. They acknowledge such senti- 
ments to be due to men, who, from good motives, achieved 
illustrious deeds ; and Avho forgot self, in devotion to the 
public. These persons are not supposed to maintain, that 
men, who misunderstood, or who perverted their trust, are 
to be ranked with men of the first class. But they suggest, 
that, if inquiry be made into Mr. Jefferson's pretensions, the 
people may take it ill, and that there must always be danger 
in startling ancient and deep-rooted prejudices. 

The fear of startling prejudices may be a cogent reason 
for persisting in the divinity of oracular responses ; for con- 
tinuing in the faith, that birds were commissioned to foretell 
the fate of armies ; and for persevering in search after the 
will of the gods, among the entrails of a bullock. But, in 
these days, reason and common sense are supposed to have 
some ministry in the human mind. One may venture to 
pay the tribute to the American people of believing, that 



they can arrive at and value truth; and that having the 
right and the duty of ordering their own welfare, they can 
and will justly estimate the means of accomplishing that 
purpose. We have no design to shock any one's prejudices. 
We are not dealing with Mr. Jefferson as an individual. 
We " war not with the dust." With Mr. Jefferson's princi- 
ples and example, as an expounder of the constitution, every 
free American is deeply concerned ; and, if Mr. Jefferson 
has been unjust to public benefactors, every American is 
interested that his errors should be made known. 

If the maintenance of constitutional liberty be the object, 
there may be those, who think ^ny effort of this nature prof- 
itless and vain. They may be of opinion, that the sovereign 
people will not believe constitutional government to be a 
restraining power, intended to prevent the wrongs, which 
they can do to each other ; and authorized to protect itself 
against their own illegal assaults. The people will not be 
convinced, it is said, that their peace, prosperity, and free- 
dom depend on the strict observance of laws : They cannot 
know when they are well or ill governed ; and rather prefer, 
if they could know, the ruling of cunning and deceitful flat- 
terers to that of wise and honest men. We are reminded 
of the rebellions and of the near approach to despotism, 
within the last fifty years ; and how all combinations of 
citizens, however originating, resolve themselves into politi- 
cal parties, and seek power by perverting the right of 
suffrage. We are reminded, also, of the gradual decline in 
the character of public authority, and of the striking contrast 
between the personal worth and dignity of some who have 
ruled, and of some who do rule. Then the future is looked 
to, with fearful apprehension, and it is asked, whether, as 
numbers increase, and the American people are farther and 
farther removed from the influences of the revolution, there 
can be any reasonable hope of preserving civil liberty. 



PREFACE. 



To all such suggestions it may be answered, that any 
government, except mere despotism, implies difficulties and 
contentions ; and the freer it is, the more will these abound. 
Yet our government can be kept within constitutional rules, 
or soon brought again within their limits, when it has trans- 
gressed them. But this supposes watchfulness and intelli- 
gence, and a keen sensibility to encroachment. Such 
qualities our citizens have shown, to an extent sufficient to 
preserve civil liberty so far ; and it ought not to be doubted, 
that they will continue to do so. The real character of the 
government, however, has not always been republican ; it 
has sometimes been republicanism fashioned by democratic 
despotism. Our rulers will generally arise from a certain 
sort of numerical power. The art is well understood of 
making dominion out of the fears, prejudices, and pride of 
that power. There will always be the sympathy of identity 
between that power and the rulers which it selects ; and 
these rulers will be worshipped because worship is self-grat- 
ulation. This is the true secret of the homage rendered to 
Napoleon, to Mr. Jefferson, to Andrew Jackson. But this is 
a natural delusion, which positive suffering can dissipate. 
As all such rulers inevitably tend (the world over) to despo- 
tism, the turning point will be, whether the majority can be 
made to feel actually existing despotism in time to crush it 
by peaceable election, and before its strength renders oppo- 
sition vain. We incline to think, that liberty will often be 
in peril ; but that intelligence, virtue, and interest will again 
and again combine and rescue it from the grasp of its pre- 
tended friends. 

It is proved in this country, rather than in any other, of 
any time, that as society moves onward under its natural 
propensity to improve, intellectual power takes the place of 
physical force. It is here, therefore, that all are interested 
to give to this power a useful direction ; and rather are the 



Vm PREFACE. 

wealthy and exalted, than the poor and humble, interested, 
that all should be well informed. Ambition does not choose 
for its birth-place the palace in preference to the hovel ; and 
in a free country it will not be idle. Like the richest soils, 
rank with noisome and poisonous weeds when unsubdued, 
it will, if left to itself, deform society with infidelity, perver- 
sion, and crime. By promoting the means of intellectual, 
religious, and consequently of moral culture, it may possibly 
come to be a generally admitted truth, that public life can 
be neither honorable nor profitable to the individual, when not 
honorable and useful to the jjublic. 

There may be much of speculation, but no settled opinion 
on the point, whether the Americans have a better or worse 
hold on civil liberty, at this day, than they had at the begin- 
ning of this century. It might have been expected, that 
their institutions would have obtained solidity by use and 
precedent ; and that the enjoyment of freedom, such as was 
never before known, would have made that freedom precious 
to every mind, capable of understanding its value. But 
Americans have too much freedom to have occasion to con- 
sider what it is ; just as one, who never felt the weight of a 
chain, finds a silken thread intolerable. They have even 
sometimes gone so far as to renounce the guardianship of 
their liberty, and have appointed masters, and think it free- 
dom to render homage to them. This is discouraging. 
But yet it is believed, that Americans will preserve civil 
liberty ; not through virtue and intelligence alone, but through 
these and the conservative power of interest ; and through 
interest, because the American institutions are distinguished 
from any others, in having a renovating principle, which 
can be applied at Avill, without violence ; and without any 
shock to the established order of society, but that of dis- 
missing a dominant faction, and establishing a wise and con- 
stitutional policy. This is revolution ; but it is tranquil and 



peaceable. Something of the same nature is seen in the 
English government, in the power to change a ministry. 
Thus virtue and intelligence, the dictates of interest, and 
the provisions through which interest may operate peaceably 
and justly, lead to the belief, that constitutional order and 
tranquillity can and will be preserved. 

But the republic cannot be eternal ; that unsparing in- 
novator, Time, will surely bring it to an end. Will it be 
by military usurpation ? No case is now foreseen, (such 
is our fortunate position on the globe,) in which any man 
can have so numerous and devoted an army, as to make 
himself a despot, while the people are wise enough to train 
themselves to the use of arms, as militia. Will it be by excit- 
ing and corrupting a craving jwpulace ? There can hardly 
be such a class in the United States. Commerce, agriculture, 
and universal industry, bringing comfort and independence, 
unknown to ancient republics, preclude the existence of 
such class in such numbers, as to endanger the public safe- 
ty. It must be yet a long time before there can be so many 
who have nothing, and who can acquire nothing, and who 
can be attracted into combinations by a sense of oppression, 
that the ordinary powers of government, aided by the force 
of public opinion, cannot control them. Will it be by civil 
usurpation ? This cannot advance far, without touching 
the interests of a majority, sufficiently to arouse them to a 
sense of their danger. If they do not discern the wrong 
before it reaches their property and daily bread, they will 
feel it then, and will help themselves to a peaceable consti- 
tutional remedy. 

Mr. Jefferson would certainly have lost the popular favor, 
in consequence of the privations and miseries which he im- 
posed upon his countrymen, if he had not so intermingled 
foreign politics as to make it believed, that the honor of the 
country was involved in his measures. So Mr. Madison 



PREFACE. 



would have lost his popularity, from the distresses of the war, 
if a majority had not been disciplined to feel, that the war 
was a necessary and patriotic policy. Both these Presidents 
foresaw consequences, and retraced their steps. 

In the present chief magistrate there is a striking example 
of the consequences of usurpation. He has ventured to lay 
his hand on the commerce, the industry, and the money of 
the country, and he has suddenly fallen from the most ex- 
traordinary popularity to the very lowest degradation. He 
has so fallen, because he is not sustained by any such aux- 
iliary causes as his two predecessors relied on. He can dis- 
tress the country, but he cannot destroy its liberties. 

It will be seen, that the nearest approach to despotism was 
during the presidencies of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison. 
Legislative and executive power were then in perfect har- 
mony. In nearly all the states, there was equal harmony 
between like powers, and close sympathy between these and 
the powers exercised by the national government. But there 
was an opposition, which comprised a major part of every 
thing which government is instituted to protect, computing 
in any manner but by heads. This opposition and the ju- 
diciary saved the country from greater calamities than those 
which it endured. It is by no means intended to suggest, 
that either of these magistrates intended despotism. Neither 
of them had any such design. But if either of them had 
gone but little further, he might have glided into absolute 
dominion under the full belief, that he was sustaining repub- 
lican liberty by silencing its enemies. At this time, all but 
Jackson-men know, that the President is a monarch, though 
he conscientiously believes, that he is the purest of repub- 
licans, because he thinks " the people " honor and admire 
him. 

There are some dangers peculiar to this country, and 
among them civilicar and disunion. When and in what form 



this danger may present itself, it would be presumptuous to 
conjecture. There has been a recent excitement of this ten- 
dency, but it served only to cause an estimate of the value 
of the union, and to fix it more firmly in the reverence of 
the people. 

In a land so free as this, an incessant struggle for power, 
both from good and from bad motives, must be expected. 
There will be perverse legislation, corrupt and wicked man- 
agement, blind devotion to party, and instances of flagrant 
usurpation. Americans have no patent i-ight, in the matter 
of government, nor any better assurance than other nations 
have, that wisdom, virtue, and disinterestedness will always 
govern their country. Their constitutions are better than 
those of any other country, but they are to be administered 
by men. It may often require the best efforts of such minds, 
as now adorn the Senate of the United States, to discern 
and declare where the constitution was left, and to aid the 
people in replacing it on the solid foundation of their respect 
and affection. But such events may recur again and again 
without the final loss of republican liberty. 

Good as the constitution is, it is not now the same admi- 
rable product of human wisdom which it was, when first 
presented to the American people. It was then an illustri- 
ous commentary on the experience of past ages ; — an un- 
precedented system, whereby to obtain all the good, and 
prevent all the evil, which arise from man's strength and 
weakness, virtue and vice, whether regarded as an indi- 
vidual, or combined in society. It was no less honorable to 
the people to have adopted this system, than it was to have 
conceived, prepared, and to have offered it. 

That part, which may be supposed to have engaged the 
attention of the framers most intently, was the executive 
power. It was so guarded as to prevent to the utmost, the 
elevation of a mere popular favorite ; and to inspire the 



chosen with a proper sense of responsibility, not to a party, 
but to a nation. Under the influence of Mr. Jefferson, it 
was so amended as to convert the dignity of the presidency 
into a commission to superintend a continually recurring 
scramble for favor and reward. This is the most lamentable 
of all Mr. Jefferson's errors. All others may be transitory ; 
this will be permanent. For, if a majority concur in the 
necessity of amendment, they will not concur in what it 
shall be ; much less will they restore the Constitution to its 
original excellence. If executive patronage be not always 
a corrupting and debasing machinery, it will be otherwise 
only by choosing Presidents, who have too much wisdom 
and conscience to make it so. 

Closely connected with civil war and disunion is the ques- 
tion of slavery. A most unfortunate delusion has arisen, 
founded partly on hostility to the principle of slavery, (a 
principle, which, in the abstract, no reasoning can sustain,) 
partly on disregard of the true nature of the negro, partly 
on mistake of the common sentiment of all classes of so- 
ciety, but more than on either of these, on the error, that 
the condition of the negro can he bettered hy general manu- 
mission, ill a land where white popttlation hold the political 
power and the physiccd strength. This is a subject full of 
fearful apprehension, so long as philanthropy so entirely 
misapplies itself, in territories where slavery does not exist,- 
as to attempt to govern within territories where ages have 
interwoven slavery with all the desired objects of life. It 
is already seen, that this matter resolves itself into a ques- 
tion of mere interest; and no teacher is needed to make 
known, that the next door neighbour to interest '\s force ; and 
that this will surely be called in, when interest finds itself 
presumptuously assailed. What sort of philanthropists must 
they be, however amiable their motives, who propose to in- 
telligent masters voluntarily to exchange condition with their 



slaves ! The restoration of the colored to the regions, which 
their Creator originally assigned to them, by colonization, is 
a matter of very different character from that of " aholi- 
tion." 

There is one danger to national security and to repub- 
lican institutions, which is daily becoming more and more 
obvious. It will be seen in the following pages, that Mr. 
Jefferson introduced this danger. It cannot be a long time, 
before Congress will be called on to provide an effectual 
remedy. State legislatures cannot perform their duties, 
until Congress comprehends and performs its duty. Cer- 
tainly the citizens of the United States will not much 
longer confer office on men, who are willing that their land 
should be a home for the vice and pauperism of Europe ; 
and perhaps subjected (by the mere exercise of political 
privileges) to foreign dominion. 

One must be very assuming to foretell the condition of this, 
or any other nation, on general principles ; but he may be 
allowed to make some deductions from experience. Thus 
it may be inferred, that in a country so extensive and varied 
as this, no fatal heresy will be tiniversal, at the same time ; 
and that no man can acquire, and long retain, a dangerous 
popularity. There will be, no doubt, alarming excitements 
in one or more states ; but the strength of the federal gov- 
ernment, powerful majorities in all other states, and strono- 
minorities within the limits of the excitement, will parry the 
threatened evil till good sense returns. When the federal 
government transcends its limits, stale authority will inter- 
pose salutary checks ; and there will always be diligent and 
zealous minorities, in the federal government, to warn the 
people of their danger. Above all, there will be a pervading 
sense of safety and utility in the union, which no member 
of the confederacy will be seriously disposed to relinquish, as 
b 



the inevitable consequence must be foreign alliance, and a 
return to colonial dependence. 

The multiplication of states will be no evil. Each one 
containing a sovereignty in itself, breaks up one great 
whole into harmonious parts ; and makes the great differ- 
ence between the American and Roman republics. In the 
latter, Rome was the empire ; whole countries, appendages. 
In like manner, this country is distinguishable from modern 
France, which is a sort of republic with a King for its chief; 
but France must always be restive and turbulent, while 
Paris is all France and all of France is Paris. 

Vast as this country is, its remotest parts will not be strange 
to each other. Commerce, enterprise, mutual wants and de- 
pendence, facility of intercommunication, and the daily 
messenger, the press, will soften and wear away prejudice, 
the child of ignorance. The variety of religious sects will 
promote religion. As no one of them «an strengthen itself 
by alliance with civil power, intolerance is deprived of its 
weapon, and will rather be useful than mischievous. 

The American community may have some analogy in its 
progress to the seeming evils of the natural world. Vesuvi- 
us is not always casting forth its lava ; it gives time for the 
verdure to return, and for human habitations to rise again, 
over the path of its desolation. A small portion of earth, or 
ocean, is exposed to the rage of any one tempest. Epidem- 
ics, by some unknown law, have their times and places; and 
though their existence any where, may sometimes awaken 
anxiety every where, they do not wrap the whole world in 
gloom at the same moment. 

Those who are about to close their eyes on all earthly 
scenes need not, as we humbly conceive, to despair of 
the fate of their descendants. There is hope enough that 
their country will go on, as well as the lot of humanity will 
permit. Certainly, such hope should be cherished ; for 



PREFACE. XV 

when the present institutions are broken up, no power but 
that which can still the face of ocean, can compose the 
political and social relations of Americans, anew, in any 
similitude to rational freedom, 

Boston, Nov. 1, 1834. 



I 



CONTENTS 



LETTER I. 

State of the country in 1783 — Massachusetts — embarrassments. 

LETTER IL 

Massachusetts insurrection — Governor Bowdoin. 

LETTER III. 

Massachusetts rebelHon. 

LETTER IV. 

Governor Hancock — state of society. 

LETTER V. 

Governor Hancock — Lieutenant Governor Lincohi — Washington's 

visit. 

LETTER VI. 

Old confederation — Federal constitution — Massachusetts convention 
— FederaUst, by Jay, Madison, and Hamilton. 

LETTER VII. 

Massachusetts convention — Fisher Ames — Rufus King — Charles 

Jarvis. 

LETTER VIII. 

Adoption of the constitution — origin of parties — first Congress. 

LETTER IX. 

Hancock's death — Rev. Dr. Cooper — state of society — Brissot — 

education. 

LETTER X. 

Beginning of the National Government — President Washington — 
Vice President Adams — first Congress. 
6* 






XVIU CONTENTS. 

LETTER XI. 

First cabinet — public debt funded — Bank — Jefferson — Hamilton. 

LETTER XII. 

Excise law — French revolution — civic feast — Resolutions against 

Hamilton — Mr. Giles's remarks on Washington. 

LETTER XIII. 

French revolution — parties — Genet — Jacobin clubs — Mifflin — Dal- 
las — English captures. 

LETTER XIV. 
Congress in 179.3 — Jefferson's commercial report — Marshall's charac- 
ter of Jefferson — parties in Congress — distinguished members — 
renewed attack on Hamilton. 

LETTER XV. " 

Mission to England — John Jay — Fauchet — rebellion in Pennsylva- 
nia — Talleyrand — Knox and Hamilton resign. 

LETTER XVI. 

Jay's treaty — Washington's letter to the Selectmen of Boston. 

LETTER XVII. 

Fauchef s intercepted despatches — Edmund Randolph — Pinckney. 

LETTER XVIII. 

Adet, French minister — Washington's reply to Adet — Jay's treaty — 

popular movements on this treaty — debate in Congress — Monroe — 

France. 

LETTER XIX. 
Washington — Lafayette — Bollman — Lord Lyndhurst — third election 
of President — Paine's letter to Washington — Jefferson's letter to 
Paine — charges against Washington. 

LETTER XX. 

Adet's address to Americans — French influence — Washington's letter 
to Jefferson. 

LETTER XXI. 

Washington's last speech to Congress — farewell address — Jefferson's 
remarks, and Jay's letter, on the address — Washington's personal 
appearance and deportment — reception of visiters. 



CONTENTS. XIX 

LETTER XXII. 

Washington's administration — its difficulties — Colonel Isaac Hayne 
— funding public debt — national bank — policy of Washington. 

LETTER XXIII. 

Essex Junto — General Benjamin Lincoln. 

LETTER XXIV. 

General Henry Knox — Jefferson's opinions of Knox — Jefferson's 
Writings. 

LETTER XXV. 
Duke of Kent — present King of France — Sir A. Baring — foreign 
ministers — distinguished members of Congress — Philadelphia in 
1797 — Robert Morris. 

LETTER XXVI. 

Samuel Adams — Increase Sumner — Francis Dana — Theodore Sedg- 
wick — state of society. 

LETTER XXVII. 

Election of John Adams — of Jeffei-son, Vice President — mission to 
France. 

LETTER XXVIII. 

Treatment of envoys in France — X, Y, Z afiiiir — war with France 
— new missions to France — measures taken to impair Mr. Adams's 
popularity — affair of Jonathan Robbins. 

LETTER XXIX. 

Alien law — sedition law — combination of foreigners — Callender's 
" Prospect before Us " — Jefferson and Callender — Logan's mission. 

LETTER XXX. 

New judiciary law, February, 1801 — pardon of Fries — end of the 
federal administration — character. 

LETTER XXXI. 

Death of Washington. 

LETTER XXXII. 

Jefferson's Mazzei letter — speech as Vice President — Jefferson's 
remarks on the Mazzei letter — Jefferson's personal appearance — 
his vice presidency. 



XX CONTENTS. 

LETEER XXXIII. 

Mr. Jefferson — principles of action — elements of parties — reasons 
why Mr. Jefferson's " Writings " should be noticed. 

LETTER XXXIV. 

Mr. Jefferson's Writings. 

LETTER XXXV. 

Mr. Jefferson's attack on the funding system and the hank, as federal 

measures. 

LETTER XXXVI. 

Mr. Jefferson's charge against federalists, as intending to introduce 
monarchy. 

LETTER XXXVIL 

Mr. Jefferson's election to the presidency — his remarks on James 
A. Bayard — vindication by Mr. Bayard's sons — Mr. Jefferson's 
pohcy. 

LETTER XXXVIII. 

Contradictory opinions entertained concerning Mr. Jefferson when 
elected to the presidency. 

LETTER XXXIX. 

Inaugural speech — answer to New Haven remonstrance — invitation 
to apostacy — author of party government. 

LETTER XL. 

Mr. Jefferson's opinion of the judiciary. 
LETTER XLI. 
Mr. Jefferson proposes to Congress to repeal all federal measures — 
judiciary law — acts of Judge Chase, which led to his impeachment. 

LETTER XLII. 

Impeachment and trial of Judge Chase. 

LETTER XLIII. 

Purchase of Louisiana. 

LETTER XLIV. 

Mr. Jefferson's proposal to repeal the alien law — his former opinions 

on aliens. 



CONTENTS. XXI 

LETTER XLV. 

Mr. Jefferson's hostility to the navy — his gun-boat system. 

LETTER XLVL 

Difficulties on purchase of Louisiana — Miranda's expedition from New 

York to South America — Burr's conspiracy. 

LETTER XLVII. 

Burr's arrest and trial for treason. 

LETTER XLVIIL 

Burr's trial — Mr. Wirt. 

LETTER XLIX. 

Alexander Hamilton — duel with Burr. 

LETTER L. 

Mr. Jefferson's gift of two millions to Napoleon — John Randolph's 

pamphlet on this subject. 

LETTER LL 

Jefferson and England — rejects treaty of 1806 — embargo of 1807 — 
state of the country. 

LETTER LIL 

Governor Strong — Governor Sullivan — Lieutenant Governor Lincoln 
— proceedings of Massachusetts Legislature. 

LETTER LIII. 

Governor Gore — members of Massachusetts Legislature — merchants 
— Governor Gerry — Governor Strong. 

LETTER LIV. 

Mr. Jefferson's retirement — his various accounts of embargo system. 
LETTER LV. 
Mr. Jefferson's account of himself — examination of his account — au- 
thor of nullification. 

LETTER LVL 

Examination of his policy — effects of his policy. 

LETTER LVIL 
How Mr. Jefferson found the United States in 1801 — how he left them 
in 1809 — Mr. Madison — his policy — continuation of Mr. Jefferson's. 



fi_ 



XXU CONTENTS. 

LETTER LVIII. 
■^Causes of war in 1812. 
LETTER LIX. 
The Henry plot — Mr. Madison's motives. 
LETTER LX. 
•— War message, and measures in Congress. 
LETTER LXL 
' Opposition to the war in Congress — state of Europe. 

LETTER LXIL 

Coincidence of Napoleon's war against Russia and American war 
against England — reception of the war in New England. 

LETTER LXIII. 

Terror that came with the war — Baltimore — Washington Benevolent 
Societies. 

LETTER LXIV. 

^- Convention at New York — Dewitt CUnton. 
LETTER LXV. 
— Progress of the war — proposed conscription and impressment. 

LETTER LXVI. 

Proceedings of Massachusetts — causes of the Hartford Convention. 

LETTER LXVIL 

Effects of the Hartford Convention 

LETTER LXVIIL 

Measures in consequence of the Hartford Convention — conclusion 

of the war — peace message. 

LETTER LXIX. 

Mr. Madison's probable motives — close of his administration — Mr. 
Monroe's presidency. 

LETTER LXX. 

,Motives and conduct of the Federalists. 

LETTER LXXL 

Strong — Brooks — Gore — Cabot. 



CONTENTS. 

LETTER LXXII. 

Pickering — Lowell, senior — Higginson — Hichborn. 

LETTER LXXIII. 

Parsons — Sewall — Parker — Dexter. 

LETTER LXXIV. 

Otis — Lowell, Jr. — Quincy — Ward — Lloyd. 
LETTER LXXV. 

Conclusion — difficulties — remedies. 



The Appendix to the volume, first edition, is omitted in this ; it con- 
sisted of, 1. Evidence collected by the sons of James A. Bayard, on 
Jefferson's calumnies. 2. John Jay's letter on Washington's Farewell 
Address. 3. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Legislature on national 
affairs. 4. Address of the minority of Congress, on the war with Eng- 
land, drawn up by Josiah Quincy. 5. Extract from Walsh's letter on 
the genius and character of the French revolutionary government, and 
on French military conscription. 



General Index. 



For cradicable, page 77, line 27, read irradicable. 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



LETTER I. 

Boston, Jan. 17, 1833. 

The citizens of the present day find themselves to be 
members of a great and growing republic. They must be 
members, also, of some political party, if they exercise the 
rights and duties of citizens. They usually become party- 
men, without much consideration of the reasons for being on 
one side, or the other. Accident, imitation, or being on one 
side, because some one, not in favor, is on the other, are as 
good reasons as many can give, for the choice they make. 

There is a right and a wrong in all political divisions. 
One side may be entirely right, and the other entirely wrong. 
Two opposing parties may be both wrong, in proportion as 
they deviate from the sound principles of the constitutions 
under which they live. 

It is a dry and uninteresting employment to most young 
persons, to study out the origin, and progress, of the political 
institutions of this country. But if our republic is to con- 
tinue, these young persons must know, in some way, how 
much it depends on them to accomplish its preservation. 
All modes of instruction must be attempted. Whether 
that intended, in the following pages, will be of use to that 
end, cannot be foreseen. It is the design to run through 
the prominent events, in this country, out of which political 
parties have arisen. 

In 1783, and for some time afterwards, and up to the 
time of the French Revolution, there were distinctions in 
1 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



society, now unknown. They were the remnants of the 
colonial relations. Persons in office, the rich, and those who 
had connexions in England, of which they were proud, were 
the gentry of the country, before the war. Modes of life, 
manners, and personal decoration, were the indications of 
superiority. The commencement of hostilities drove a large 
portion of this gentry from the colony ; but these indications 
continued among some who remained, and adhered to the 
patriot side. There was a class of persons (no longer known) 
who might be called the gentry of the interior. They held 
very considerable landed estates, in imitation of the land- 
holders in England. These persons were the great men in 
their respective counties. They held civil and military 
offices, and were members of the general court. This sort of 
personal dignity disappeared before the end of the last century. 

The long continued and impoverishing war had brought 
very serious embarrassments, public and private. One mode 
of relief, after the war ended, was to engage in commerce. 
The commercial part of the community who had means, (and 
some of them were wealthy from privateering,) and all who had 
credit in England, engaged in importing English manufac- 
tures. This traffic drained the country of specie, and intro- 
duced articles of luxury, which the inhabitants needed not, and 
for which they contracted debts, which they could not pay. 
Embarrassments were increased from such causes. Importa- 
tions were discountenanced, and those who made them, not 
only made bad debts, but attracted public odium. The usual 
consequences of such mistakes followed. There were insol- 
vencies, and prosecutions. These new, and improvident 
contracts, were but a small item in the causes of general 
distress, after independence was secured. These were far 
more serious and durable, as they involved public, as well as 
private credit. 

The United States owed the heavy debt of the war. Be- 
sides this national debt, the states, separately, had contracted 
heavy debts of their own, in carrying on the war. Towns, 
also, had contracted debts in furnishing men, and necessa- 
ries for the army, especially in Massachusetts. Individuals 
owed large sums, the interest of which had been accumulat- 
ing during the war. In the planting states of the south, 
very heavy debts were due to the English. These necessa- 
rily slept through the war. 



ON P,UBLIC CHARACTERS. 3 

When the courts of justice were again opened, and undis- 
turbed by military movements, there was leisure to prosecute 
for debts. The utter inability to satisfy judgments in money, 
induced some of the state legislatures to enact, that debtors 
might tender any personal property, at an appraisement, in 
satisfection. Thus a seaboard creditor might recover a judg- 
ment against a creditor in the country, and instead of being 
paid in money, or by the seizure and sale of personal property, 
any country produce might be tendered, which, not being 
convertible into specie, was of no value to him. This legal 
provision is supposed to have occasioned the prohibitory 
clause in the United States constitution, that no state should 
pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts. If this 
was so, the application of this clause has been extended far 
beyond the original design, but, undoubtedly, with most 
reasonable and just effect. 

The complaining and dissatisfied, of the present day, may 
have some sympathy with their predecessors immediately after' 
the war, who were not sufferers from wanton acts of rulers, 
but from necessary and inevitable consequences of having 
obtained their freedom. The. paper currency had sunk to 
be almost nominal. Of specie there was but a small amount. 
Congress earnestly besought of the states their proportion of 
the sums which the Union owed ; state creditors were im- 
portunate, and private debtors were vigorously pursued. 
Massachusetts had stood forth, foremost of all the states ; 
and at the close of the war, she had furnished one third of 
all the effective force in the national service. This state 
owed, as its proportion of the national debt, five millions of 
dollars. It owed on its own account, and not as a member 
of the Union, 84,3:13,333. It owed to the soldiers and offi- 
cers, which it had sent into the war, $660,666, making ten 
millions of dollars. The resources of the state, to pay so 
much of this debt as was immediately payable, were only 
the revenues derived from importation, in the low state of 
commerce ; and direct taxation on estates, and polls of per- 
sons, overwhelmed with embarrassments ; and when the 
whole number of polls in the state did not exceed ninety 
thousand. 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



LETTER II. 



Jan. 20, 1833. 

In October, 1784, Massachusetts assessed a tax of one 
million four hundred thousand dollars, on an impoverished, 
distressed, and disheartened people. This tax, together 
with the number of civil suits instituted by private creditors, 
brought on a state of high excitement. In looking over the 
records of this time, it will be seen, that one lawyer insti- 
tuted an hundred actions at one court. Lawyers were 
associated with the general distress, and were considered to 
be principal causes of it, merely from the performance of 
professional duties. In our own time, so strongly contrasted 
with those immediately after the war, we hear of propositions 
and efforts to diminish the expenses of administering justice. 
At that time the newspapers abounded with severe reproaches 
of the profession ; but as these measures produced no relief, 
while the courts were open, the acrimony against lawyers 
was soon transferred to the courts. In different parts of the 
state, armed combinations arose, for the purpose of prevent- 
ing the sitting of the courts, and this object was effected in 
many of the counties. The militia were called out to sup- 
press these insurrections ; but there was no reliance to be 
placed on their aid, as no small proportion of them, if not 
among the insurgents, were among the disaffected. At 
length it became necessary for the government to declare 
that a rebellion existed, and 4,400 men were raised to sup- 
press it. The command of this force was given to Major 
General Lincoln, whose conduct in the execution of this 
trust will be hereafter mentioned. 

Among the deep impressions of early days is that of the 
great excitement which existed at that time, and which 
occupied every bosom. It was expected that the insurgents 
would march to Boston, and attempt to liberate certain state 
prisoners there. All the young men were under arms and 
ready to be called into real service. They wore the garb 
of soldiers daily, and held themselves prepared to march at 
the shortest notice. 

It fell to the lot of James Bowdoin to be Governor of the 
Commonwealth at this period. John Hancock, whose per- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. O 

sonal appearance and character will be delineated, in some 
future page, had been governor from the adoption of the 
constitution in 1780. In January, 1785, he unexpectedly 
resigned. Whether he foresaw the rebellion, and chose to 
escape the responsibility of encountering it, oflicially, or 
whether he considered himself too infirm to continue in 
office, may be questionable. The latter cause was assigned, 
and was a sufficient one. His successor, Bowdoin, was not 
chosen by the people, but he had the highest number of 
votes, and was constitutionally chosen by the senate. This 
is the only instance of the failure of an election, by the 
people, from 1785 to 1833. In the month of November, 
1785, it was feared that an attempt would be made to pre- 
vent the sitting of the courts in Middlesex county, and a 
large number of troops were assembled at Cambridge, under 
the command of General John Brooks. Governor Bowdoin 
went to Cambridge to review them. He had no military 
experience himself, and was not mounted. He stood on the 
court-house steps. His appearance and dress, as the troops 
passed by him, are well remembered. He was then about 
fifty-eight years of age. He was a tall, dignified man in 
appearance. At the time of this review he was dressed in 
a gray wig, cocked hat, a white broadcloth coat and waist- 
coat, red small-clothes, and black silk stockings. His face 
was without color, his features rather small for his size, his 
air and manner quietly grave. During the two years he 
was in office, the scenes of the rebellion occurred. He 
conducted himself with great discretion and firmness. It 
was said, that he was very well advised ; and was confirmed, 
by able men, in the opinions which he sustained under very 
trying difficulties. From a recent perusal of his official 
communications to the legislature, he appears to have been 
governed by a high sense of duty, and by an enlightened 
perception of what his duty was. Bowdoin was naturally a 
man of feeble health. He had been chosen as delegate to 
the first congress, but was unable to attend, and Hancock 
was chosen in his place. Bowdoin had the reputation of 
being a man of learning. He was the principal founder of 
the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and its first 
president. Dr. Samuel Cooper, minister of Brattle Street 
Church, was the first vice president. Bowdoin was an 
honorary member of several literary and scientific societies. 
1* 



b FAMILIAR LETTERS 

The only writings of this gentleman, except his official 
papers, while in the office of governor, may be found in the 
first volume of the American Academy's publications. 

Bowdoin's dignified and effective administration ought to 
have secured to him the entire confidence and gratitude of 
the people. This, as will be shown, was far otherwise, and 
after two years' service, another was elected in his place. 
He took no further part in public aff"airs. His private char- 
acter was that of a strictly moral man ; rather adapted to a 
tranquil, than to an ardent and active life. He died in 
the year 1790, at the age of sixty-three. He was buried 
with military parade, conducted by the company of Inde- 
pendent Cadets, which was renovated during his magis- 
tracy, and is now in possession of a standard presented by 
him. He had an only son (who left no child) and three 
daughters. His place of abode was the Bowdoin House, 
still remaininor in Beacon Street. 



LETTER III. 

Jan. 24, 1833. 

The most accurate account of the insurrection in Massa- 
chusetts, is Minot's. It is also treated of in Bradford's 
respectable History of Massachusetts, second volume. All 
the notice of this event, which the present purpose requires, 
in showing the train of occurrences, may be comprised in a 
short space. 

The frequent popular meetings, and the prevention of the 
sitting of the courts, having made it necessary to exert the 
power of the government. Gen. Lincoln, as before mentioned, 
was appointed to the command of a force, which he con- 
ducted to Worcester, in January, 1787. The arrival of these 
troops, at that place, enabled the court to hold its session 
there, undisturbed. The insurgents concentrated their forces 
in the neighbourhood of Springfield. Luke Day was at the 
head of about 400, and Daniel Shays at the head of about 
1100. The latter had been an officer in the continental 
army. General William Shepherd, afterwards a member 
of Congress, had the command of about 1100 of the militia of 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 



the county of Hampshire. Shays was on the east side of 
Springfield, and Day on the westerly side of it. Shep- 
herd, supposing it to be Shays's object to possess himself of 
the arsenal there, posted his troops for its defence. Lincoln 
directed his march from Worcester to Springfield. Shays, 
knowing of the approach of Lincoln, found it indispensable 
to attempt the defeat of Shepherd before Lincoln could ar- 
rive. Relying on the aid of Day, on the western side, 
Shays approached Shepherd's position on the afternoon of 
January the 25th. When they had come within a short dis- 
tance, Shepherd sent messengers to them demanding to know 
their purpose, and warning them of their danger. Shays 
answered, that he meant to have possession of the bar- 
racks. Shepherd replied to him, that he was posted there, 
by order of the Government, and of Congress; and that 
if Shays came any nearer, he and his body of men would 
be fired upon. He was answered, that was what was 
wanted. The insurgents were within 250 yards of Shep- 
herd's line ; and when they had advanced an hundred yards 
further. Shepherd ordered two cannon to be fired, but, un- 
willing to shed the blood of his deluded fellow-citizens, 
caused the shot to be thrown over their heads. This 
measure not having intimidated them, as he hoped it 
would, his guns were then pointed to the centre of their 
column and discharged. A cry of murder was heard in 
the ranks of the insurgents, and they immediately fell into 
such confusion and terror, that their leader's efforts to dis- 
play his column, and lead on to battle, were all in vain. 
His men immediately retreated to Ludlow, about ten miles 
from the place of action, leaving three of their men dead 
and one wounded. (3Iinot's Hist. Insur. IIL) 

Shepherd remained at his post, in constant expectation 
of a renewed attack from the united force of Shays and 
Day ; and of Eli Parsons, who led about 400 men from 
Berkshire. He had reason to believe that the advantage 
of attacking him before the arrival of Lincoln's troops 
would not be lost. But at noon on the 27th he had the 
satisfaction of seeing the approach of Lincoln's troops, 
consisting of four regiments, three companies of artillery, 
a company of horse, and another company who were 
volunteers. Hardly stopping to rest. General Lincoln led a 
detachment across the frozen river, to attack Day ; while 



L 



8 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Shepherd moved up the river to prevent the junction of 
Day and Shays. Day's party were put to flight and escaped 
to Northampton. The party of Shays retreated to Am- 
herst, destitute of all provision, except that obtained by 
plunder. Lincoln followed in the same direction, but find- 
ing that Shays had gone from that place, and that his troops 
could not be sheltered from the excessive cold nearer than 
at Hadley, he marched thither. 

While at this place, Lincoln was informed that Shays 
had posted himself at Pelham hills, and he thought proper 
to address a letter to him, and his officers (on the 30th of 
Jan. 1787) of a firm, and dignified, but humane charac- 
ter, informing them that if they laid down their arms, and 
took the oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth, they 
would be recommended to the General Court for mercy. On 
the same day Shays replied, that he desired hostilities to 
cease, until an answer could be received to a petition then 
on its way to the General Court. To this communication 
Lincoln replied on the 31st, " Your request is totally inad- 
" missible, as no powers are delegated to me, which would 
" justify a delay of my operations. Hostilities I have not 
" commenced. I have again to warn the people in arms 
" against the Government, immediately to disband, as they 
" would avoid the ill consequences which may ensue, should 
" they be inattentive to this caution." 

The petition mentioned by Shays, and the intelligence 
received from Lincoln, induced the legislature to declare 
the existence of an open rebellion on the 4th day of Feb- 
ruary, 1787. On the third of February the insurgents 
were retreating towards Petersham. Of this fact, Lincoln 
had notice at three o'clock on the same day ; but it was 
not made certain till six o'clock. Notwithstanding the 
severity of the weather, and the disadvantage of a night 
march, he gave orders to his troops to be ready, with three 
days' provision, at eight o'clock, at which time he departed 
in pursuit. When they had arrived at New Salem, about 
two o'clock in the morning, a violent wind from the north 
arose, severely cold, and accompanied by a snow-storm, 
which obstructed the path. There was no place for shelter, 
or refreshment ; and as the intensity of the cold made it 
hazardous to stop in the road, for any purpose, there was no 
alternative but to pursue their disheartening march, which 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 9 

could terminate no where but in the quarters of the enemy. 
Thus, their march was prolonged to thirty miles, in the 
nio-ht time, not a little resembling the retreat of the French 
from Moscow. At nine next morning Lincoln's front was 
at Petersham, his rear five miles distant. 

This was the fiivorable moment for the insurgents. They 
had passed the night in comfortable quarters, and were in 
full vigor, and could easily be embodied, and conducted to 
action, against an exhausted force, of which only the front 
had presented itself But Lincoln's flanks being defended 
by the depth of snow, and there being no approach but in the 
path in front, and having guarded this by placing his artillery 
in front, he advanced with the certainty of success. 

The first notice which the insurgents had of Lincoln's 
presence, was from the entrance of the advanced guard 
among them. The surprise was complete. Their minds 
were directed to this wonderful achievement, and not to the 
advantages which they might have had over those who had 
performed it. Men who are conscious of being engaged in 
punishable acts, must be assured of superior strength, or 
driven to desperation, in contending against others who move 
under the impulse of duty. Their courage abandoned them; 
they instantly tied, thinking only of personal safety. One 
hundred and fifty were taken. The remainder escaped into 
neighbouring states. 



LETTER IV. 

Jan. 27, 1833. 

Notwithstanding the energetic measures of Bowdoin in 
suppressing the rebellion, the attention of the yieople was 
again turned to Hancock. He was always the popular 
favorite, and it was hoped, by those who sought relief from 
the public burthens, that more was to be expected from 
him than from Bowdoin. Many who had been, in princi- 
ple, opposed to rebellious measures, and those who promo- 
ted them, or were engaged in them, uniting in favor of 
Hancock, constituted a majority of the electors. In these 
early days it was suggested and believed, without any justi- 



k 



10 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

fiable cause, that Bowdoin had English partialities ; because 
an Englishman, who bore a title, had become his son-in- 
law. Hancock having been elected, continued Governor 
until his death, which occurred in October, 1793, at the 
age of 56. 

Hancock will be considered in the history of our coun- 
try, as one of the greatest men of his age. How true this 
may be, distant generations are not likely to know. He 
was the soa of a clergyman in Braintree, and was educa- 
ted at Harvard College, and inherited a very ample fortune, 
from his childless uncle. Hancock left no child. He had 
a son who died at an early age from an unfortunate acci- 
dent. Hancock was sent as a delegate to Congress in 1774, 
as before mentioned, and in consequence of his personal 
deportment, and his fame as a patriot, he was elevated, in 
an assembly of eminent men, to the dignity of President, 
which office he held when the Declaration of Independence 
was signed, at which time he was only thirty nine years of 
age. 

In June, 1782, Governor Hancock had the appearance of 
advanced age, though only forty-five. He had been repeat- 
edly and severely afflicted with the gout, a disease much 
more common in those days than it now is, while dyspepsia, 
if it existed at all, was not known by that name.* As 
recollected, at this time, Gov. Hancock was nearly six feet in 
stature, and of thin person, stooping a little, and apparently 
enfeebled by disease. His manners were very gracious, of 
the old style of dignified complaisance. His face had been 
very handsome. Dress was adapted quite as much to be 
ornamental as useful. Gentlemen wore wigs when abroad, 
and, commonly, caps, when at home. At this time, (June, 
1782,) about noon, Hancock was dressed in a red velvet cap, 
within which was one of fine linen. The latter was turned 
up over the lower edge of the velvet one, two or three 
inches. He wore a blue damask gown, lined with silk ; a 
white stock, a white satin embroidered waistcoat, black 
satin small-clothes, white silk stockings, and red morocco 
slippers. It was a general practice in genteel families, to 

* It may be that the very general practice of drinking punch in the 
forenoon, and evening, by all who could afford it, was the cause of the 
common disease of gout. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 11 

have a tankard of punch made in the morning, and placed 
in a cooler when the season required it. Visiters were in- 
vited to partake of it. At this visit, Hancock took from 
the cooler, standing on the hearth, a full tankard, and 
drank first himself, and then offered it to those present. — 
Hancock was hospitable. There might have been seen at 
his table, all classes, from grave and dignified clergy, down 
to the gifted in song, narration, anecdote and wit, with whom 
" noiseless falls the foot of Time, that only treads on flowers." 
There are more books, more reading, more thinking, and 
more interchange of thoughts derived from books, and con- 
versation, at present, than there were fifty years ago. It is 
to be hoped that society is wiser, and happier, than it was, 
from being better instructed. Some persons may be of 
opinion, that if social intercourse is on a better footing 
now, than formerly, it is less interesting, less cordial than 
heretofore. It is not improbable that increase of numbers, 
and of wealth, tend to make the members of society more 
selfish ; and to stifle expansive and generous feelings. 
Modes of life run into matters of show and ornament; and 
it becomes a serious occupation, to be able to compare con- 
dition on advantageous terms. 

Though Hancock was very wealthy, he was too much 
occupied with public affairs to be advantageously attentive 
to his own private ones. The times in which he lived, and the 
distinguished agency which fell to his lot, from his sincere 
and ardent devotion to the patriot cause, engendered a strong 
self regard. He was said to be somewhat sensitive, and 
easily offended, and very uneasy in the absence of the high 
consideration which he claimed, rather as a right, than a 
courtesy. He had strong personal friends, and equally 
strong personal enemies. From such causes arose some 
irritating difficulties. He had not only a commanding de- 
portment, which he could qualify with a most attractive 
amenity, but a fine voice, and a higlily graceful manner. 
These were traits which distinguished him from most men, 
and qualified him to preside, in popular assemblies, with 
great dignity. 

Hancock was not supposed to be a man of great intellect- 
ual force by nature ; and his early engagements in political 
life, and the scenes in which he was conversant, called for 
the exercise of his powers only in the public service. He 



12 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

was SO placed as not to have had occasion to display the 
force of his mind, in that service, so as to enable those of 
the present day to judge of it, excepting in his communica- 
tions to the legislature. There is one exception. He de- 
livered an oration on the massacre of March 5, 1770. 

If history has any proper concern with the individual 
qualities of Hancock, it may be doubtful whether, in these 
respects, distant generations will know exactly what man- 
ner of man he was. But as a public man, this country is 
greatly indebted to him. He was most faithfully devoted 
to the cause of his country, and it is a high eulogy on his 
patriotism, that when the British government offered pardon 
to all the rebels, for all their offences, Hancock and one 
other (Samuel Adams) were the only persons to whom this 
erace was denied. 



LETTER V. 

Feb. 1, 1833. 

One who has been a careful observer of political events, 
for a course of years, well knows, that it is in these, as it is 
in private life, in this respect : — sometimes seeming evil 
results in good ; and seeming good, earnestly desired, and 
labored for, turns to evil. This may be shown in the 
occurrences just mentioned. Hancock's resignation, Bow- 
doin's election, his defeat at the third election (1787), and 
Hancock's re-election, were respectively considered at the 
time, by the best informed men, as public misfortunes. But 
if Hancock had not resigned, the rebellion, probably, would 
not have been suppressed. The war would have extended 
to other states, and we might now have been in the like 
condition with that of the Spanish provinces in South 
America. If Hancock had not been elected in 1787, it is 
doubtful whether the federal constitution would have been 
adopted in this state ; and if it had been rejected in Massa- 
chusetts, such was the respect in which this state was then 
held, it cannot be supposed that other states would have 
done differently from this. If the union of the states had 
not then been effected, it seems to have been admitted, that 



I 



OF PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 13 

there was no hope of agreeing on any other mode of accom- 
plishing this object ; and none, that the old confederation 
would long have held the states united. 

When Hancock succeeded Bowdoin, all the causes of the 
rebellion still continued. Taxes were exceedingly burthen- 
some, and means for payment wholly inadequate. Com- 
merce was conducted to great disadvantage, and mostly in 
British vessels. The importations were of articles which 
the sensible men of the day considered to be, in part unne- 
cessary, and in part worse than useless ; and not to be had 
without draining the country of specie. But in the course 
of this year the aspect of affairs changed in some degree ; 
and inspired hopes that difficulties might be surmounted. 
The fear of new commotions died away. The courts were 
no more impeded. Nine of the insurgents were tried, and 
condemned ; some of them escaped from prison, some were 
pardoned ; one only was punished by commuting the pun- 
ishment of death to that of imprisonment to hard labor. No 
blood was shed by the civil authority. Public peace and 
confidence in the government being restored, the natural 
energy of New England men was turned to objects of 
industry. About this time, with a view to aid domestic 
manufactures, and to prevent importations, the state took an 
interest in establishing a duck manufactory in Boston, and 
a cotton manufactory in Beverly. For some reason, both 
these efforts proved abortive. The manufacture of pot and 
pearl ashes was much encouraged, and these became the 
jnost important article of export. 

In 1788, Governor Hancock was re-elected with somewhat 
more of opposition than in the preceding election. When 
the legislature assembled, he was too much indisposed to 
make the customary speech. He sent a written message, 
which is probably the first instance of a communication in 
that form, at the opening of a session. 

In this political year there are some things worth noticing. 
Hancock made a persuasive appeal to the legislature to 
provide by law for public schools, and for suitable instruc- 
tion. Notwithstanding the general poverty and distress, 
laws were enacted, and carried into effect. Ability to 
establish the means of education, indispensable to a healthy 
state of society, and to the preservation of a republican 
government are now abundant ; but in proportion to the 
2 



14 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

increase of this ability, solicitude to apply it profitably seems 
to have decreased. It is a just ground of complaint, that 
the interests of education, so far as they are confided to the 
care of the state, are not sufficiently regarded. 

In 1788, Benjamin Lincoln, who commanded the troops 
in the rebellion, was chosen lieutenant-governor. He had 
acquired the highest respect and esteem, not only on that 
occasion, but for his services in the revolutionary war. It 
is not easy to assign the true cause for Hancock's treatment 
of Lincoln. At that time. Castle William, now Fort Inde- 
pendence, belonged to the state. The perquisites of the 
command at this place, were equal to an annual salary of 
one thousand dollars. The lieutenant-governor had always 
been appointed to this command, and had received no other 
compensation than these perquisites. Hancock did not 
give the command to Lincoln, but exercised it himself, and 
actually resided at the castle, whenever it suited his con- 
venience. The reason for not appointing Lincoln was not 
disclosed ; and there was no reason apparent to the public. 
It can be accounted for only by knowing what opinions and 
feelings Hancock could entertain, and how pertinaciously 
he could adhere to them. The legislature interposed, and 
requested to know why Lincoln was not appointed to the 
coumnand of the castle. Hancock evaded the inquiry, and 
intimated, that he was himself the proper judge of the time, 
when the appointment was to be made. The legislature 
provided a salary and the appointment was not made. This 
conduct materially affected Hancock's popularity, but not 
to the extent of defeating his election, in the ensuing year. 
Something may be inferred of the true character of Hancock 
from this transaction ; for no man could be more deserving 
of confidence and respect in public, and in private, than 
Lincoln. Hancock's motives can only be conjectured. 

In 1789, President Washington visited the eastern states. 
He travelled in a post-chaise with four horses ; he was 
accompanied by Major Jackson, official secretary, and by 
Tobias Lear, his private secretary ; and attended by his 
famous man Billy, who makes a conspicuous figure in the 
forged letters. A disagreement arose between the Governor 
and the Town's Committee, to which of them belonged the 
honor of receiving the President at the line of the town. 
From this cause there was a long delay, during which the 



OP PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 15 

President was exposed to a raw northeast wind, by which 
exposure he was visited by a severe cold. Many other 
persons were exposed and affected in like manner, and the 
affection became so general as to be called the Washington 
influenza. He came in on horseback, dressed in his old 
continental uniform, with his hat off. He did not bow to 
the spectators as he passed, but sat on his horse with a 
calm, dignified air. He dismounted at the Old State 
House, now City Hall, and came out on a temporary bal- 
cony at the west end ; a long procession passed before him, 
whose salutations he occasionally returned. A triumphal 
arch was erected across the street at that place, and a choir 
of singers were stationed there. When Washington came 
within hearing, he was saluted by the clear, powerful voice 
of Daniel Rea, who began the ode prepared for the occa- 
sion : " The conquering Hero comes." 

Hancock, with some feeling of state rights, had taken 
the position that, as the representative of sovereignty in his 
own dominion, he was to be visited frst, even by the 
President; who, on Hancock's own ground, is the repre- 
sentative of sovereignty of all the states, wheresoever he may 
be within their limits. The President was made to under- 
stand that Hancock expected the first visit. This was not 
deemed proper by the President. A negotiation ensued. 
It ended in a refusal on the part of the President to see 
Hancock, unless at his own place of abode, which was at 
the house at the corner of Court and Tremont Streets. 
The delay was afterwards imputed to Hancock's personal 
debility. On the second or third day, Hancock went in his 
coach, enveloped in red baize, to Washington's lodgings, 
and was borne in the arms of servants into the house. 

The President remained here about a week, and partook 
of a public dinner, dined with the Governor, and attended 
an oratorio in King's Chapel, on which occasion he was 
dressed in black. On his departure for Portsmouth, he 
showed his regard for punctuality. He gave notice that he 
should depart at eight o'clock in the morning. He left the 
door at the moment. The escort not being ready, he went 
without them ; they followed and overtook him on the way. 



k 



16 FAMILIAR LETTERS 



LETTER VI, 



Feb. 4, 1833. 

In 1774, on the suggestion of Massachusetts, a congress 
of delegates assembled at Philadelphia. This assembly 
conducted the affairs of the United States during the war 
until the year I78I. It was commonly called " The Con- 
gress." It was one body, and exercised legislative and 
executive power ; and acted in the name of the states, in 
the negotiations with all foreign powers. In 1781, the 
several states adopted articles of confederation, intended to 
vest such powers in The Congress as were then deemed 
necessary ; but they amounted to no more than power to 
recommend to the several states, the adoption of such 
measures as the common defence and prosecution of the 
war required.* 

When the pressure of the war ceased, it was found that 
the powers given by the articles of confederation made 
Congress entirely dependent on the states. Congress could 
demand of the states whatsoever was necessary for the per- 
formance of its contracts made in the course of the revolu- 
tion. But the states might comply or not ; and if they did 
not, Congress had no power of coercion. If money was 
wanted. Congress apportioned the sum among the states, 
according to population and property. The states had then 
to assess on their respective inhabitants the amount de- 
manded. When the danger from the presence of the 
enemy had ceased, the sates judged for themselves whether 
they could, and would, comply with the demand. The 
states began, also, to exercise acts of sovereignty among 
themselves, and over such acts Congress had no control. 
Congress could not regulate commerce between the states, 
nor between them individually or collectively, and foreign 

* It is not intended to do more than make a mere outline of his- 
torical events. Those who desire accurate information are referred 
to the first volume of the truly excellent work of Judge Story, 
entitled, " Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States." 
All the works which relate to this interesting period are there re- 
ferred to ; and his countrymen are indebted to him for an historical 
compilation which leaves nothing to be desired. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 17 

countries. It could not derive a revenue from importations. 
In short it could recommend, and this was the extent of its 
power. The disturbances, and consequent insurrection 
and rebellion in Massachusetts alarmed all the states. 
General Washington wrote to a friend, that if such was to 
be the fruit of the revolution, it would have been far better 
to have saved the lives and the money expended. 

Several propositions were made to hold conventions to 
consider the proper measures to be adopted. One was 
held at Annapolis, in Maryland, in September, 1786, but 
only five states were represented. These movements led to 
the convention which began in Philadelphia in May, 1787, 
at which all the states were represented, except Rhode 
Island. From this convention came the present constitu- 
tion, after a long and laborious discussion, in the course of 
which the convention was frequently on the point of break- 
ing up, hopeless of accomplishing any thing. This consti- 
tution was submitted to Congress, and by Congress to the 
states, with a recommendation that delegates from the people 
should meet and consider it. Hancock submitted this con- 
stitution to the legislature of Massachusetts in November, 
1787, and a convention assembled in Boston on the 9th of 
January following, consisting of three hundred and fifty-five 
members. 

The ablest men in the state were of this assembly. They 
commenced their session in the Old State House, and soon 
adjourned to a meeting-house, where the Rev. Dr. Chan- 
ning's meeting-house now stands, whence that street has its 
name. John Hancock was chosen president ; William 
Gushing, then chief justice, vice president; George Rich- 
ards Minot, author of the History of the Insurrection, and of 
a Continuation of the History of Massachusetts, was secre- 
tary. An intense interest was taken in the proceedings of 
this respectable assembly. It was believed that, if the consti- 
tution was rejected by them, there could be no hope of hav- 
ing it adopted by the requisite number of states. There is no 
doubt that, if the question had been taken without discus- 
sion, there would have been a large majority against the 
adoption. Each member would have voted on his own 
objections, and there were some objections in almost every 
mind. The constitution had been thoroughly discussed, in 
the most able manner, in newspapers in different parts of the 
2* 



18 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

States, before the convention met. These commentaries 
had been generally read. At the head of all of them are 
the numbers entitled " The Federalist," which were the joint 
work of Jay, Hamilton, and Madison, but principally of 
Hamilton. This work is held to be a high authority at the 
present day, as explanatory of the constitution. The theory 
and practice of mankind in government, from the earliest 
ages, were open to discussion as illustrative of the serious 
measure proposed to the American people ; and it could not 
be otherwise than that the ablest men in the country should 
have been enlisted on the one side and the other. No one 
who did not live at that time, with capacity to comprehend 
the operation of hopes, fears, jealousies, doubts, and per- 
plexities, can conceive of the sober and absorbing interest 
which was then experienced in this community. This 
interest was more deeply felt in Massachusetts than in any 
other state, in consequence of the recent rebellion ; and 
from this cause the zeal, both of advocates and opponents, 
may have been the more ardent. There are few, if .any, men 
now living who were members of this convention. Some 
of them held eminent stations in public life in after times. 
There are not many now living who knew them personally, 
and of these perhaps there is no one who will take the 
labor of describing them, unless it be done in these letters. 
All the men who took any active part in this assembly, and 
who were sufficiently prominent to be objects of curiosity, 
will be described according to the impressions which mem- 
ory retains. 



LETTER VII 



Feb. 8, 1833, 



The course of discussion was to take up paragraphs of 
the constitution, in their order, and for each member, who 
saw fit, to express his opinion. The final and only ques- 
tion was, on the acceptance or rejection of the instrument, 
in whole. Elbridge Gerry, who had been a member of the 
convention, and afterwards Vice President of the United 
States, as well as Governor of Massachusetts, was invited to 



I 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 19 

take a seat in the convention, that he might be called on 
for explanations. He was so called on twice ; and, on de- 
bate, it was settled, that his answers should be given in 
writing. This gentleman was opposed to the constitution, 
and so declared himself to be, in a letter addressed to Gov- 
ernor Hancock before he came home. Mr. Gerry was a 
man of middling stature, and thin person, of courteous man- 
ners, and gentlemanly appearance. He took an active and 
zealous part in the revolution. His public transactions are 
recorded in different forms, and to these reference is made 
to satisfy curiosity, as to his ability and his usefulness in 
public services. 

The first important debate that occurred in the conven- 
tion, was on the election of representatives for ttoo years, 
Fisher Ames distinguished himself in this debate. He 
was then about thirty years of age, and had been known as 
a writer on the politics of the day. His speech, on this 
occasion, placed him in an eminent rank as a statesman, 
and orator, which he made still higher and higher as long 
as his public life continued. No man has appeared in this 
country, who took a deeper interest in its prosperity and 
honor ; and it is not an easy matter to point out his superior 
in comprehensive and just views, or in ability to display 
them, whether in speech, or writing. It is said that the 
eloquence of the tongue, and the pen, do not often occur in 
the same man; he was alike eminent in both. 

The constitution having been adopted by nine states in 
the course of the year 178S, the first elections under it oc- 
curred in the autumn of that year. Mr. Ames was sent to 
Congress, and remained a member during the whole of 
Washington's administration. He made many elaborate 
and able speeches. There is a test of congressional excel- 
lence, in the general sentiment which the public acquire, 
not from the hearing, or reading, of speeches by each one 
who pretends to an opinion, but by a community of senti- 
ment, of which friends and foes admit the correctness. 
Thus, there are thousands who know that Mr. Ames was 
an eloquent statesman, who never heard his voice, nor read 
a word of his utterance. The two speeches which may be 
considered to have precedence of all others which he made, 
were that on Mr. Madison's resolutions, and that on grant- 
ing appropriations under Jay's treaty. The former was 



20 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

delivered on the 27th January, 1794, the latter on the 28th 
April, 1796. The first of these speeches was in answer to 
a course of policy, (proposed for the first time at the sug- 
gestion of Mr. Jefferson in an official report,) which was 
afterwards fully developed, and carried into effect, during 
the administrations of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison. 
The second speech was, probably, the greatest effort of his 
political life. He was then in a state of health which 
seemed to forbid any effort. He is represented to have 
given up all hope of being able to speak. His manly form, 
enfeebled by disease, was hardly capable of supporting him 
in the action of his unimpaired mind, and, no doubt, this 
circumstance tended to excite a highly increased interest. 
No one who heard him could suppose it possible that he 
should ever be heard again in any legislative assembly. 
His friend and biographer, the Rev. Dr. Kirkland, in his 
beautiful sketch of Ames, says of this speech, " When he 
" had finished, a member in opposition moved to postpone 
" the decision on the question, that they might not vote 
" under the influence of a sensibility, which their calm 
" judgment might condemn." Mr. Ames so far recovered 
as to attend the next session of Congress. He lived till the 
4th of July, 1808, and died at the age of 50. Dr. Kirk- 
land's volume contains his speeches and his writings, most 
of which are essays on the political affairs of this country, 
and Europe ; and also " Hints and Conjectures concerning 
"the Institutions of Lycurgus, " — "American Litera- 
" ture, " — " Review of a Pamphlet entittled. Present State 
" of the British Constitution, historically illustrated, " — 
" Sketch of the Character of Alexander Hamilton." 

Though Mr. Ames's professional brethren held him in 
the highest respect, they concurred with his biographer, 
that he was more adapted to the senate than the bar. 
" It was easy and delightful to him to illustrate by a pic- 
" ture, but painful and laborious to prove by a diagram." Mr. 
Ames was a man of purest rnorals ; of most amiable dis- 
position ; and most sincerely beloved by his friends, among 
whom were some of the most eminent men of that day. 
He was above middle stature, and well formed. His features 
were not strongly marked. His forehead was neither high 
nor expansive. His eyes blue and of middling size ; his 
mouth handsome ; his hair was black, and short on the 



ON PUBLIC CHAUACTEUS. 21 

forehead, and, in his latter years, unpowdered. He was very 
erect, and when speaking he raised liis iicad, or ratlier his 
chin was the most projected part of his face. He had a 
complacent expression when he was speaking, and if he 
meant to be severe, it was seen in good-natured sarcasm, 
rather than in ill-natured words. It was said that the 
beautiful productions of his pen were the first flow of his 
mind, and hardly corrected for the press. Mr. Ames's life 
is supposed to have been shortened by his excessive anxiety 
about his country. Many of his predictions have been 
realized, and some of them in his lifetime. His air, man- 
ner, and countenance, were those of an honest and sincere 
man; the condition of the country furnishes abundant proof 
that he was, politically, a wise man ; all his mournful 
prophesies may be in the course of fulfilment. 

Rufus King was a member of this convention, from 
Newburyport. He had been in the first Congress. At this 
time he was thirty-three years of age. He was an uncom- 
monly handsome man, in face and form; he had a powerful 
mind, well cultivated; and was a dignified and graceful 
speaker. He had the appearance of one who was a gen- 
tleman by nature, and who had well improved all her gifts. 
It is a rare occurrence to see a finer assemblage of personal 
and intellectual qualities, cultivated to the best effect, than 
were seen in this gentleman. He expected to have been 
chosen to the Senate of the United States after the adoption 
of the constitution ; but this not having happened, he went 
in the following year to reside in New York. He was there 
elected to the Senate of the United States in 1794 ; and 
was sent by Washington minister to London in 1*96, and re- 
mained there till 1803. He was twice afterwards elected 
to the Senate ; and when he was far advanced in life, he 
was again sent to London ; but his health was so much 
impaired, that he came home in about a year, and died at 
the age of seventy-three. Mr. King's manner in the Senate 
was highly dignified, and in private life that of a polished 
gentleman. His speeches, in manner, and weight, gave him 
an exalted rank. Among his superior advantages was an 
accurate knowledge of dates, and facts, of most essential 
service in the Senate. His two finest speeches are said to 
have been on the burning of Washington by the British ; 
and on the exclusion of Mr. Gallatin from the Senate, for 



22 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

the reason, that he had not been a citizen long enough to 
be entitled to a seat there. Mr. King was a public man 
throughout his long life, with few and short intervals ; but, 
like all other men, in our country, whose pride or pleasure 
depends on office, he was subjected to some disappoint- 
ments. Yet he may be considered as one of the most suc- 
cessful of the eminent men whose relations to the public 
endured so long. The private life of Mr. King is said to 
have been highly respectable ; biographical sketches of him 
mention, that he was a professor of Christianity. 

Among other members of this convention, were Samuel 
Adams, Charles Jarvis, Christopher Gore, Benjamin Lin- 
coln, Theophilus Parsons, George Cabot, Francis Dana, 
John Brooks, Caleb Strong, John Coffin Jones, Theodore 
Sedgwick. There may be occasion to mention these again, 
except Charles Jarvis, of whom it may be observed, that he 
was a zealous advocate for the constitution, though after- 
wards a decided opponent to the administration of it. This 
gentleman was a physician ; he was a tall fine figure, bald 
head, rather large face, and small eyes. His motions were 
vehement, and he was of ardent character. He had a fine 
voice, and a natural popular eloquence, rarely surpassed. 
He was accustomed to pause in his eloquence, when he had 
said something which he thought impressive, and to look 
round upon his audience for the effect. This was a haz- 
ardous experiment, but he never seemed to fail in it. 



LETTER VIII. 

Feb. 1.3, 1833. 

The history of the world records no case of more intense 
interest, than that which pervaded the United States, in 
the year 1788. Thirteen independent sovereignties, seriously 
alarmed for their preservation against each other, more 
alarmed with the apprehension that they might give up the 
liberty, which they had gained with the utmost exertion of 
mind and body from foreign tyranny, to one of their own 
creation within their own limits, called into the deliberative 
assemblies of the time, all the able men of the country. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 23 

Some union of the states was admitted by all, to be indis- 
pensable ; but in what manner it should be elTected, what 
powers should be given, and what powers reserved ; how 
these should be modified, checked, and balanced, were points 
on which honest men might zealously contend. Here was 
a case, in which a whole people, unawed by any foreign 
power, in peace with all the world, sorely experienced in 
what may be the exercise of civil authority ; dependent on 
no will but their own ; convinced of the necessity of forming 
some government ; — were called on to settle, by peaceful 
agreement among themselves, the must important questions 
which can be presented to the human mind. 

The first, and most comprehensive point of division, was 
found in the extent of power to be granted to the national 
government. Some men were disposed to guard state rights, 
and, at all events, to avoid the establishment of powers which 
might gradually absorb them, and result in a consolidation, 
through the dominion of an aristocracy, or despotism. Others 
foresaw the necessity of vesting powers adequate to the pre- 
servation of peace among the states, to enabling all of them 
to act as one, in relation to all foreign governments, and to 
secure a coercive power, for all national purposes, over the 
citizens of the several states. How, then, were these pow- 
ers, so liable to abuse, to be defined and regulated to the 
satisfaction of all parties ? 

There may have been some men, who desired to be free 
from all national government, and who preferred to rely on 
the strength of their own state governments. This number, 
probably, was not great. It is believed that a large majority 
of the thinking men were decided, that there must be some 
confederation of the states. The discussion, in convention 
and in the public papers on the powers to be given, and 
those to be reserved, became more and more zealous, and 
divided the country into two great parties, who took the 
name of Federalists, and Anti-federalists. This may be 
called the second division into parties ; the preceding one, 
during the war, having been that of whigs and tories, 
borrowed from English politics, as far back as the reign 
of the Charleses. 

It is to be remembered, that the popular conventions, 
assembled in the states, were not to settle what the powers 
of the national government were to be, but whether the 



24 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

powers defined, in the proposed constitution, should be those 
to be exercised ; and, consequently, whether the constitution 
was to be accepted, or rejected. This question necessarily 
led to the most searching discussion of these powers, accord- 
ing to the views which the federalists, and anti-federalists, 
entertained. Those who desire to be accurately informed 
as to the ground of difference, will find an able summary in 
Judge Story's first volume of Commentaries, Book III. 
ch. II. in which this learned and indefatigable student has 
referred to all the authentic sources of information. 

We are now looking back to those eventful days, after an 
experience of more than forty years. It is humiliating to 
find, how groundless were some of the fears of the honest 
and able, and how unperceived were some of the perils, and 
the most dangerous ones too, which time has disclosed. The 
objection least insisted upon was the abuse of executive 
power ; that most insisted upon was the abuse of legislative 
power. The danger is now known to be from the former 
source, and that if there be any preventive power, it is to be 
found in the latter. In the sketch of debates in the iVIassa- 
chusetts convention, there is no notice of objections to the 
executive power ; the discussion appears to have been warm 
and zealous on that of the legislature. There has been 
unwise and improvident legislation in abundance, but none 
hitherto that has endangered the liberties of the country 
which did not arise from executive suggestion. In what 
danger these liberties are, under the combined dominion of 
" the people's " president, and an association of artful, 
selfish, and unprincipled men, and a subservient congress, is 
a very serious inquiry. This is precisely the case which Mr. 
Ames so eloquently discussed in his political writings. 

How truly Mr. Ames foresaw a coming state of this coun- 
try, may be seen from an essay of his entitled " No Revolu- 
tionist," published in 1801. " The deceivers of the people 
" tire out their adversaries ; they try again and again ; and an 
" attempt that is never abandoned, at last, will not fail. We 
" have an enlightened people, who are not poor, and who 
" are, therefore, interested to keep jacobinism down, which 
" ever seeks plunder as the end, and confusion as the 
" means. Yet, the best informed of this mighty people are 
" lazy ; or ambitious and go over to the cause of confusion ; 
" or are artfully rendered unpopular, because they will not 



I 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 25 

'go over. The sense, the virtue, and the property of the 
' country, therefore, will not govern it ; but every day 
' shows that its vice, and poverty, and ambition, will. We 
' have thought that virtue, with so many bright rewards, 
' had some solid power; and that with ten thousand charms, 
' she could always command an hundred thousand votes. 
' Alas ! these illusions are as thin as the gloss on other 
' bubbles. Politicians have supposed that man really is 
' what he should be ; that his reason would do all it can, 
' and his passions, and prejudices, no more than they ought ; 
' whereas, his reason is a mere looker-on ; it is moderation, 
'■ when it should be zeal ; is often corrupted to vindicate, 
' where it should condemn ; and is a coward, or a trimmer, 
* that will take hush-money." 

To return to the convention ; it has been observed, that 
the adoption of the constitution in Massachusetts may have 
depended on Governor Hancock. He had been absent some 
days from illness. On the 31st of January (1788) he re- 
sumed his place, and after remarking on the difference of 
opinion which prevailed in the convention, as he had seen 
from the papers, he had to propose that the constitution 
should be adopted ; but that the adoption should be accom- 
panied by certain amendments, to be submitted to Congress, 
and to the states. He expressed his belief, that it would be 
safe to adopt the constitution, under the expectation, that 
the amendments would be ratified. The discussion appears 
then, to have turned on the probability of obtaining such 
ratification. It cannot be assumed, for certainty, that this 
measure of Hancock's secured the adoption ; but it is highly 
probable. The convention may have been influenced by 
another circumstance. About this time a great meeting of 
mechanics was held at the Green Dragon tavern, situated in 
what is now part of Union Street, and westerly of the 
Baptist meeting-house. The tavern and the street were 
thronged. At this meeting resolutions were passed, with 
unanimity, and acclamation, in favor of the adoption. But 
notwithstanding Hancock's conciliatory proposal, and this 
expression of public feeling, the constitution was adopted by 
the small majority of nineteen out of three hundred and fifty- 
five votes. 

The adoption was celebrated in Boston by a memorable 
procession, in which the various orders of mechanics dis- 
3 



26 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

played appropriate banners. It was hailed with joy through- 
out the states. General Washington is well known to have 
expressed his heartfelt satisfaction, that the important state 
of Massachusetts had acceded to the union. There is much 
secret history as to the efforts made to procure the rejection, 
on the one side, and the adoption on the other. It would 
take more time than the subject is worth, to detail the ru- 
mors of the day, in this respect. 

The proposed amendments were taken into consideration 
at the first Congress, under the new constitution, and digested 
into twelve articles. These were submitted to the several 
states, and ten of them adopted, and now form part of the 
constitution. They were in the nature of a bill of rights, 
and of the same import with like provisions in the state 
constitution of Massachusetts. The ninth and tenth arti- 
cles, on the construction of powers, are frequently quoted 
in Congress, and in courts. 

The greatest anxiety followed the adoption, on account 
of the uncertainty whether a sufficient number of states, 
(several of them not having then called conventions,) would 
accept the constitution. The required number (nine) did 
so, within the next six months, and the elections were made 
in the autumn, and following winter. 

The first Congress met at New York in the month of 
April, 1789. Washington had been unanimously chosen 
President, and assumed his office on the 30th of April. 
John Adams was chosen Vice President. The proceedings 
of Congress, at the earliest sessions, are highly important. 
They comprise the construction of the powers given by 
the constitution to that body. This subject will be here- 
after mentioned in connexion with the parties, who gave 
a character to the times, under the political distinctions 
before mentioned. 

This minute account of the origin of parties has been 
given to show, that the party-name, Federalist, was that of 
the citizens who were in favor of adopting the proposed 
confederation, or constitution ; that is, they were earnestly 
desirous of entering into this new union. It will here- 
after be seen, that Mr. Jefferson devoted much of his public 
and private life to prove that they were dis-unionists and 
monarchists ; — factious and traitorous. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 27 



LETTER IX. 

Feb. 20, 1833. 

Governor Hancock continued in office till October, 
1793, and then died at the age of fifty-six, of gout and 
exhaustion. In the latter years of his life, he was severely 
afflicted with the gout", and hardly competent to perform the 
duties of his place, even so far as these can be performed in 
one's house. Still he retained a strong hold on the popular 
good will. His funeral was conducted with great ceremony. 
The militia of the town and surrounding country were 
called into service. The judges of the Supreme Judicial 
Court had, up to this time, worn robes of scarlet, faced 
with black velvet, in winter, and black silk gowns in sum- 
mer. On this occasion they appeared in the latter, but, 
for some reason, they wore neither robes nor gowns after- 
wards. 

Hancock had some faithful friends and advisers in whom 
he reposed entire confidence. Among them was his clergy- 
man. Dr. Samuel Cooper, though this person died during 
the early years of Hancock's magistracy, (in December, 
1783,) at the age of fifty-nine. Dr. Cooper was one of the 
great men in revolutionary days. He was learned and 
eloquent, and one of the most finished gentlemen of that 
age, and one of the ablest divines of any age. He was 
singularly neat in his dress. He wore a white bushy wig, 
a cocked hat, and gold-headed cane. He was tall, Avell 
formed, and had an uncommonly handsome, intelligent, and 
amiable face. One could not fail to remember him well 
who had ever seen him. He was as much of a politician 
as a divine, and a powerful writer on the patriot side ; 
but there are no writings of his preserved, except sermons, 
and newspaper essays, which cannot now be dsstinguished 
as his. He is supposed to have sacrificed his life to the 
inordinate use of Scotch snuflT. His brain was first seri- 
ously affected, and his mind was much impaired before 
his physical powers failed. He told a friend who visited 
him a short time before the close of his life, " when you 
" come again, bring with you a cord ; fasten ends of it in 
" each corner of the room ; let the cords cross in my head 



28 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" to keep it steady." There are representations of the 
personal appearance of Dr. Cooper, having inscribed on 
them this notice of his eloquence, melle dulcior jluebat 
oratio. The most distinguished men of that time were his 
parishioners, and among others. Governors Bowdoin and 
Hancock. 

It may not be uninteresting to sketch the condition and 
usages of society about the time of the adoption of the con- 
stitution, according to the impression now retained of them. 
There were families who were affluent and social. They 
interchanged dinners and suppers. The evening amusement 
was usually games at cards. Tables were loaded with pro- 
visions. Those of domestic origin were at less than half 
the cost of the present time. The busy part of society dined 
then, as now, at one, others at two o'clock ; three o'clock was 
the latest hour for the most formal occasions. There were no 
theatrical entertainments ; there was a positive legal prohibi- 
tion. There were concerts. About the year 1760, Concert 
Hall was built by a gentleman named Deblois, for the pur- 
pose of giving concerts ; and private gentlemen played and 
sang for the amusement of the company. There were sub- 
scription assemblies for dancing, at the same place, and it 
required a unanimous assent to gain admission. Dress was 
much attended to by both sexes. Coats of every variety 
of color were worn, not excepting red ; sometimes the cape 
and collar were of velvet, and of a different color from the 
coat. Minuets were danced, and contre dances. Cotillions 
were of later date. They were introduced by the French, 
who were refugees from the West India Islands. A very 
important personage, in the fashionable world, was Mrs. 
Haley, sister of the celebrated John Wilkes. She came 
over in the year 1785, and purchased the house in which 
the late Gardiner Greene lived, at the head of Court Street. 
She was then advanced in life, of singular personal appear- 
ance,- but a lady of amiable deportment. She afterwards 
married a gentleman who was the uncle of a celebrated 
Scotch reviewer ; but after some years returned to England. 
Her house was a place of fashionable resort. Marriages and 
funerals were occurrences of much more ceremony than at 
the present day. The bride was visited daily for four suc- 
cessive weeks. Public notice was given of funerals, and 
private invitations also. Attendance was expected; and 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 29 

there was a long train of followers, and all the carriages and 
chaises that could be had. The number of the former in 
town was not more than ten or twelve. There were ho 
public carriages earlier than the beginning of 1789 ; and 
very few for some years afterwards. Young men, at their 
entertainments, sat long and drank deep, compared to the 
present custom. Their meetings were enlivened with anec- 
dote and song. 

Among the remarkable visiters of this country was Brissot 
de Warville, in 1788, afterwards chief of a faction in the 
French Revolution called the Girondists. He was executed 
in Robespierre's time, at the age of thirty-eight. He came 
over to learn how to be a republican. He was a handsome, 
brisk little Frenchman, and was very well received here. 
He wrote a book on this country. He was much delighted 
with the Quakers, and is said to have respected their sim- 
plicity of dress, and to have introduced, in his own country, 
the fashion of wearing the hair without powder. 

The means of education have greatly improved. There 
were two Latin Schools. One in School Street, and one at 
the north part of the town. The only academies recollected 
were one at Exeter (New Hampshire) and one at Andover, 
and one near Newburyport, called Dummer Academy. 
The latter was the seminary at which some eminent men 
were instructed ; among others. Parsons, and Sewall, Chief 
Justices in Massachusetts ; Willard, President of Harvard 
College ; S. Phillips, Lieutenant Governor ; Rufus King ; 
Commodore Preble. It was a common practice for cler- 
gymen to receive boys into families to prepare them for 
college. The means of educating females were far infe- 
rior to those of the present time. The best were " board- 
ing-schools," and there were but two or three of these. 
The accomplishments acquired were inferior to those which 
are common among hundreds of young females of the 
present time. The sum of acquirements now, in the pro- 
cess of education, greatly surpasses that of forty years ago 
in both sexes. The moral condition of society, among the 
well informed, (so far as is seen on the surface,) is greatly 
improved. There is more occupation of various sorts. So- 
ciety, collectively, is undoubtedly better. Whether its 
members, in all things then and now, innocent, are hap- 
pier or not, one cannot judge from youthful impressions. 
3* 



30 FAiMILIAR LETTERS 

In one respect there is a change of immeasurable value ; 
that is, in the intercourse of parents and children. It is 
very possible that there are some who prefer the strict 
discipline of former days ; and who believe that as much 
of substantial benefit has been lost as gained, in the changes 
which have occurred. If this be so, it arises from the 
quality of education, and not because there is more of it. 



LETTER X. 

Feb. 22, 1833. 

The first occurrences under the new national govern- 
ment, are known from the most authentic sources, and 
eminently so from the fifth volume of Marshall's Life of 
Washington. 

The government, though one of deliberate consent, en- 
countered, from the first moment of its being, a powerful 
opposition. This gradually strengthened, and at the end of 
twelve years, acquired an ascendency, and converted the 
founders of the government into an opposition. It will ap- 
pear, in distant times, to those who study the records of 
times recently passed, that when the government has been 
administered well, the principles developed by those who 
were its founders have been adhered to. How long the 
fabric on which the liberties of this nation depend, can 
endure the shocks which it must inevitably encounter, is 
beyond the power of conjecture. It may continue through 
many generations, or expire before another is gone. Its form 
and name may continue, though the true purposes for 
which it was instituted, may have been entirely perverted. 
There is an unceasing peril in the intrinsic difficulty of 
preserving the exact line between state and national author- 
ity. The same population, in each of the states respect- 
ively, being subjected to the two governments (national 
and state) may honestly divide in opinion as to rights and 
duties under each. This has been one of the causes of 
dissension, sometimes operating in one part of the Union, 
and sometimes in another. The end of the Union must 
come from this cause, or from the extinction of state 



I 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 31 

governments, by the establishment of tyranny in the federal 
head. Such results were foreseen at the commencement, 
and faithfully considered in the Federalist. 

At the beginning of this government, there were causes 
of party bitterness, which have long since disappeared. 
Besides the jealousy as to state rights, and the necessity 
of effective national administration, there were the embar- 
rassments arising out of the measures which Congress, and 
the states, respectively adopted, during the war ; the claims 
on the government ; and the delicate and difficult initiation 
of the exercise of its powers. There existed, also, a vindic- 
tive and, perhaps, justifiable feeling against Great Britain, 
and a natural partiality for France, whether justifiable or 
not. The destruction of the French monarchy soon follow- 
ed ; and the seeming of republican freedom began in that 
country. War ensued between England and France. 
French politics, enthusiasm, and power, sought dominion 
in this country. The Americans who opposed this, were 
considered as devoted to England. Thus the war of 
Europe actually raged in this country to the full extent, 
excepting that no blood flowed. Then came the whiskey 
insurrection of Pennsylvania. Amidst all these difficulties, 
the national government would probably have perished in its 
infancy, if it had not been for the wisdom and firmness of 
Washington. 

The respect, confidence, and affection universally enter- 
tained for this eminent man, were fully manifested in his 
journey from ]\Iount Vernon to New York to assume his 
office. He arrived in April, 1789, wearing, it is said, a suit 
of domestic manufacture. The members of Congress whom 
he met there, were, in part, distinguished men, who had 
assisted in framing the constitution, and who had taken a 
conspicuous rank in the conventions in which it w^as dis- 
cussed. The Vice President, Mr. Adams, who had been in 
Europe during most of the war, and who had recently re- 
turned, had taken his place at the head of the senate. There 
were in both branches some members who had been oppos- 
ed to the constitution. Among the federal members, who 
may be hereafter described, were Caleb Strong, George 
Cabot, Robert Morris, Thepdore Sedgwick, James Madi- 
son, Egbert Benson, William Smith, Elias Boudinot. Mr. 
Ames has already been mentioned as being of this Congress. 



32 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

It is said that the executive officers began their official life, 
with more parade and ostentation than was thought becom- 
ing ; and that Mr. Adams walked the streets with his hat 
under his arm, wearing a sword. Possibly this may have 
been so, because it was said, and believed in Richmond, in 
1796, that JNIr. Adams was always preceded by four men 
bearing drawn swords ; which is no very extraordinary 
amplification, if there were any thing to rest upon. Wash- 
ington's forms and ceremonies were complained of as 
amounting to royal customs. What these forms and cere- 
monies were, will be hereafter shown ; and why adopted, 
may be found in Marshall's 5th vol. p. 1C3, where a letter 
of Washington to Dr. Stuart, is quoted, stating the reasons; 
what Mr. Jefferson says (in one of his posthumous volumes) 
to the contrary, notwithstanding. 

Congress continued in session till the 29th of September, 
(1789) employed in framing the laws necessary to the organ- 
ization of the government. In this space of time, the con- 
struction of the powers intended to be given, was very ably 
discussed. The number of senators did not then exceed 
eighteen. The number of representatives attending was 
about eighty. Soon after the adjournment, Washington 
made his eastern tour. He did not then visit Rhode 
Island, but did this in the following autumn. 

Among the subjects strenuously debated at this Congress, 
was the President's power of appointment, and removal of 
the officers of his cabinet. The appointment was consti- 
tutionally subject to the assent of the senate. The removal 
was then settled to be, in the power of the President alone. 
The history of the country shows, in what manner this 
power may be used ; and some who were then opposed to 
leaving it to the President alone, would have seen their 
predictions realized, if they had continued to the present 
day. It is perceived now, that the framers of the constitu- 
tion erred in not restricting executive power ; and that the 
first legislators erred in like manner. Though they could 
not have expected a succession of Washingtons, they are 
excusable for not dreaming of Jeflfersons and Jacksons. 
Another point much discussed wasj whether the secre- 
taries of the executive should^ make reports to Congress. 
The duties and difficulties of the treasury department may 
be discerned in Mr. Ames's remarks in support of the propo- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 33 

sition : " Among other things," he said, " the situation of 
" our finances, owing to a variety of causes, presents to the 
" imagination a deep, dark, and dreary chaos, impossible to 
" be reduced to order, unless the mind of the architect be 
" clear and capacious, and his power commensurate to the 
" object. It is with the intention of letting a little sunshine 
" into the business, that the present arrangement is pro- 
" posed." 

The tonnage duty was one of the subjects, at this time, 
considered. Even then, the spirit that never tired, nor 
yielded, in favor of France, till the conclusion of the war 
in 1815, was clearly apparent. It has been before remark- 
ed, that it was a natural political feeling. It may have been 
honestly entertained. Whether it was honestly applied, at 
all times to American affairs, is a matter which must be 
left to the consideration of those who will examine with an 
impartiality, not to be expected from men who united in it, 
or lamented it. 



LETTER XI. 

March 1, 1833. 

Before the President commenced his tour in the east, he 
selected his cabinet. Mr. Jefferson was then on his voyage 
from France, in which country he had been minister some 
years. His return was intended to be temporary. On his 
arrival he found an invitation to assume the office of Secretary 
of State, with an intimation, that he was to retain his diplo- 
matic character, and return to France, if he did not accept. 
He is said to have preferred the latter, but did for some 
reason forego this preference, and assumed the duties of 
Secretary on the 23d of March, 1790. Alexander Hamilton 
was appointed Secretary of the Treasury the preceding Sep- 
tember. This office is supposed to have been offered first 
to Robert Morris, who declined it, and w ho recommended 
Hamilton. In the same month General Henry Knox was 
appointed Secretary at War; and Edmund Randolph, At- 
torney General. The office of Secretary of the Navy did not 
exist till Mr. Adams's presidency, and was first filled by 



34 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

George Cabot, in the month of May, 1798. In the lately 
published biography of John Jay, it is said, that this gentle- 
man was invited to select an office for himself, and that he 
chose the place of Chief Justice, and was appointed in the 
same September, This eminent man will be hereafter de- 
scribed ; as well as each of those who have just been men- 
tioned. 

At the next session, which was held at New York, some 
of the admirable reports of Hamilton were presented, which 
established the true course of national policy from that time 
to the present. Hamilton was then about thirty-three years 
of age. The first object appears to have been to provide for 
the debts contracted during the war, and to establish the 
national credit. The light of the sun was then let in, as 
Mr. Ames said, on this chaos. There was more light than 
was acceptable to some of the members of Congress. A 
great diversity of opinion arose ; and long and animated 
debate ensued. This highly interesting subject, at that 
time, was, and ever will be, one of deepest interest to this 
country, as the true basis of national credit, and of the 
national honor, then established. The discussion seriously 
agitated the country, and gave new vigor to party dissensions. 
There were two points of prominent interest, whether the 
state debts should be assumed by the nation, and whether 
the evidences of debt (called then public securities) should 
be " funded " for the benefit of the holders, at the nominal 
value, or at some depreciated value. They had long been 
in circulation, and sometimes as low as at one eighth of 
the sum for which they issued. These securities had gath- 
ered in the hands of those who expected payment, if the 
constitution took effect ; and this was among the causes of 
the deep interest which the conventional meetings excited. 
When " the funding system," on Hamilton's report, engaged 
the attention of Congress, " speculation " might be called a 
public distemper. At one time the securities rose above 
their nominal value. Fortunes were won and lost in a sin- 
gle hour. No one who can remember those days, needs to 
be reminded of the intense excitement which prevailed 
among speculators ; nor of the sullen dissatisfaction mani- 
fested by individuals of the opposition. Doubtless the public 
debt was to be provided for ; and, so far as can now be 
discerned, this was honorably and equitably done. But 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 35 

the effect was to strengthen opposition, and to furnish one 
more lever to pry up the administration. The greater part 
of the securities were held in the middle and eastern states. 
The wealth which was acquired in these parts of the 
Union, may have been among the early causes of the feel- 
ings which have been elsewhere manifested, since these 
times. 

No two men could have been brought together more 
entirely opposed m opmion, and modes of action, than Jef- 
ferson and Hamilton. Their disagreement became an 
implacable hostility, so that Washington thought it indispen- 
sable to interpose, and attempt reconciliation, in the most 
kind and persuasive manner, but all in vain. Jefferson had 
the strongest partialities for France ; Hamilton seemed to 
foresee and to feel a sense of horror for what was to be 
enacted in that country. Hamilton had a high regard for 
the stability and order of the English government. Jeffer- 
son appears to have entertained, at all times, the strongest 
dislike of it. It may be inferred from papers now of his- 
torical record, that Jefferson thought the President to have 
been unduly accommodating to Hamilton's opinions. This 
the President denied. Placed as these two men were, in 
the same cabinet, it is quite within the range of probability, 
that Mr. Jefferson's subsequent political course may, in 
some degree, have taken its character from the feelings 
created, or strengthened, by these collisions. 

In February, 1791, the bill establishing the Bank of the 
United States was considered in the cabinet, to decide 
whether it should have the President's approval. This insti- 
tution was thought indispensable by Hamilton, in conduct- 
ing the duties of his department. It had been thoroughly 
discussed in the House on the ground of expediency and 
constitutionality. Marshall says, (vol. v. p. 297,) " the Secre- 
" tary of State, and the Attorney General," (when the subject 
was discussed in the cabinet,) " conceived, that Congress 
" had clearly transcended their constitutional powers ; while 
" the Secretary of the Treasury, with equal clearness, main- 
" tained the opposite opinion." Written opinions were re- 
quired of each ; and the bill was approved. It does not 
appear from Marshall, that the Secretary at War had any part 
in this deliberation. From other sources of information, it 
is believed that he concurred with Hamilton. Persons, 



36 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

who considered themselves well informed, have been heard 
to say, that this discussion in the cabinet was a scene of 
intense interest. Whether the public will ever know its 
precise character, may be uncertain. This may depend on 
a biography of Hamilton, if such a work should ever be 
written. How much the personal feelings of the two secre- 
taries may have affected this great public interest, may never 
be known. It is not too late, it seems, to doubt and contend 
against expediency and constitutionality, all experience and 
precedent, notwithstanding. 



LETTER XII. 

March 3, 1833. 

Congress were engaged in February, 1791, in further 
carrying into effect, by law, Hamilton's report on provision 
for the public debt, and maintaining the national credit. 
The subject then under consideration was the excise, or a 
tax on the distillation of ardent spirits. This was vehe- 
mently resisted by the opposition. They represented it to 
be, as it proved to be, an unwelcome exercise of power, 
though the very same opposition afterwards resorted to the 
same measure. It affected a numerous class of persons, 
especially in the interior of Pennsylvania, and was generally 
unpopular throughout the Union. The tax was resisted on 
many grounds, and among others, that it was unjust and 
unequal, and that any tax on property, income, lawyers, on 
written instruments, or on salaries, would be preferable. It 
affected persons who could feel the tax as an oppression, 
but vvho could not comprehend its expediency or necessity 
to maintain the public credit. We shall see its effect, when 
enforced, and under its operation, an open rebellion against 
the government. 

About this time the French had made such progress in 
their revolution as to have established their National As- 
sembly, and the "great nation" had already become the 
terror of Europe. The tree of liberty was to be planted 
throughout the earth. The progress of French principles 
was very grateful to the opposition in the United States ; 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 37 

nor to them only. Many of the federal party were rejoiced 
to see the coming freedom of a people who had so essen- 
tially aided (from whatever motives) in securing that of 
their own country. In the course of the year 1792 the 
French Revolution had been so far accomplished as to 
demand, it was thought, a public expression of joy by the 
Americans. 

" A civic feast " was undertaken in Boston ; such a one 
as no rational being would desire to see repeated. A whole 
ox, skinned and dressed, leaving the head and horns en- 
tire, and the eyes protruding from their sockets, was turned 
on a great wooden spit, before a furnace. When the ani- 
mal was sufficiently roasted, he was placed on a sledge or 
carriage, and there properly supported and propped up, was 
drawn through the principal streets of the town, and was 
followed by two cart-loads of bread and two hogsheads of 
punch. An immense concourse of people attended ; there 
was but one mind and heart, and there was no reference 
to political divisions. The procession terminated in State 
Street, where a table was laid from the eastern end of the 
City Hall to near Kilby Street; and on this table it was 
intended that the friends of liberty should feast from the 
roasted ox. The scene soon changed ; the cutting up and 
distribution of the animal became ridiculous ; and soon 
riotous. The roasted fragments were thrown into the air, 
and hurled at female spectators who thronged the balco- 
nies, and crowded the windows. The end of this matter was, 
that a pole of fifty or sixty feet in length was raised in 
what was thence. Liberty Square, and surmounted with the 
horns of the ox, where they remained several years. It so 
happened that the civic feast occurred here on the same 
day that the head of Louis the XVI was severed from his 
body by the guillotine. This unexpected event seemed 
to open the eyes of many Americans to the true character 
of the French Revolution. It struck some of them with 
astonishment and horror ; while it was to others, a mat- 
ter of heartfelt pleasure. The latter, however, did not 
approve because they were gratified in the destruction of 
the man, for the common feeling was, that America was 
greatly indebted to Louis ; but because a king had fallen ; 
and a triumphant advance had been made in the cause of 
liberty. It is probable that the leaders of the opposition 
4 



38 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

in the United States, not only saw this event in this light, 
but saw in it, also, new encouragement that federal power 
might be demolished. 

On the first application of the excise law, there were serious 
discontents and popular movements in the western part of 
Pennsylvania ; so much so, that the President issued a pro- 
clamation commanding obedience, and intimating that legal 
prosecutions would be enforced against all infractions of the 
laws. This system of taxation was revised by Congress in 
May, 1792, but the discontents continued. 

The year 1793 was one of many important events. Par- 
ties had taken decided character in and out of Congress. 
The veneration for Washington shielded him from open 
attacks; but his secretary, Hamilton, was not spared. On 
the 27th of February, Mr. Giles, of Virginia, moved in the 
House of Representatives a series of resolutions, comprising 
several charges of official misconduct. These resolutions 
were debated with great acrimony until the close of the ses- 
sion on the 3d of March. But not more than sixteen 
members voted to sustain any one of the resolutions. This 
was a period of excessive bitterness, as appears from the 
debates and newspapers of the day. 

Hamilton was accused, in a paper called the " National 
Gazette," well known to be edited by a clerk in the office 
of Mr. Jefferson, with designs to introduce a monarchy, 
and to establish a government similar to that of Great 
Britain. All the measures recommended by him, from the 
commencement of his duties, were brought in proof of 
these accusations ; particular expressions in his reports 
were selected as conclusive evidence. On the other hand, 
Mr. Jefferson was charged in the newspapers with the 
design of subverting the government, by rendering its 
officers odious ; with being the partisan of France ; and 
with availing himself of his official station to misrepresent 
the purposes of the executive. The motives of both these 
gentlemen may be left to the decision of times more distant 
from those in which they were acting, than the present; 
and to what may be then an impartial judgment. They are 
referred to now, to show how the views of Mr. Jefferson 
were afterwards carried into his own administration. To 
this, some men of the present day believe, that subsequent 
public difficulties, and the present state of the country, may 
be attributed. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 39 

Mr. Giles had a long political life. He was of middle 
stature, rather full person, light complexion and hair, and 
full face, without color. He was a very able debater, and 
thoroughly versed in the tactics of deliberative assemblies. 
He met with some accident which deprived him of the use 
of one of his lower limbs. When he was a senator, at the 
close of Mr. Madison's administration, he moved on two 
crutches. He showed himself to be a cool and determined 
opponent of the Washington administration, and especially 
of the Secretary of the Treasury. In this year, when the 
customary motion was made on the 22d February, that the 
House of Representatives should adjourn, for the well-known 
purpose of visiting Washington, he was one of the eighteen 
who opposed it. And when Washington retired, in 1797, 
in the debate on the address to him, drawn by Mr. Ames, 
Mr. Giles opposed its adoption. Among other things he 
said, — " He did not regret the President's retiring from 
*' office. He believed there were a thousand men in the 
" United States who were capable of filling the presidential 
" chair as well as it had been filled heretofore. And 
" although a clamor had been raised in all parts of the 
" United States, more or less, from apprehensions on the 
" departure of the President from office, yet, not feeling 
" these apprehensions himself, he was perfectly easy on 
" the occasion." " He, for his part, retained the same 
" opinions he had always done with respect to certain 
" prominent measures of his administration ; nor should 
** any influence under heaven ever prevent him from ex- 
" pressing that opinion — an opinion in which he was 
" confident, ere long, all America would concur." A 
majority did concur with Mr. Giles ere long, and these 
" measures," so far as was practicable, were overruled ; but 
whether for the prosperity, honor, and happiness of the 
country, it may be safely left to history to decide. Even 
now, it must strike one with surprise, that a sensible man, 
and a native Virginian too, found it an agreeable duty to 
record his disapprobation of a man whom all America, nay, 
all the world, regards with a veneration which never before 
or since has fallen to the lot of any man. After Mr. Giles 
left Congress he was for some time governor of Virginia. 
To what extent genuine hatred of the persons who were the 
authors of these " measures " imparted a character to Mr. 



40 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Giles's feelings ; and liow far he was convinced that Wash- 
ington's administration was injurious to the country, he 
might not have known himself; since his views as a states- 
man, were so intimately combined with an implacable per- 
sonal hatred. 

It is worthy of notice, that the present chief magistrate 
of the United States, was one of the twelve in the House of 
Representatives, who refused the proposed testimonial of 
respect for the public services of George Washington. 
How much in character it was, for Andrciv Jackson, so to 
vote, may be judged of from the fact, that the address to 
Washington contained these sentiments : " For our coun- 
" try's sake, for the sake of republican liberty, it is our 
" earnest wish, that your example may be the guide of your 
" successors ; and thus, after being the ornament, and the 
" safeguard of the present age, become the patrimony of our 
" descendants." (House of Rep., Dec. 15, 1796.) 



LETTER XIII. 

March 6, 1833. 

In the early part of the year 1793, France declared 
war against England. This country was then entangled 
with France, by treaty. A very serious question arose, as 
to the part which the United States should take, in this war, 
or Avhether any. It appears to have been expected in 
France, that the United States would engage on its side, 
from treaty stipulations, or inclination, against England. 

The President, and his cabinet, were unanimously of opin- 
ion, that the United States were not held to take part in a 
war begun by France ; and on the 18th of April, the cele- 
brated proclamation of neutrality was issued. On the re- 
ceiving of a minister from the French republic, the cabinet 
were divided ; Jeiferson and Randolph were in favor of it, 
Hamilton and Knox against it. The President adopted the 
opinion of the former. It appears to have been Washing- 
ton's practice, to state questions in writing to the members 
of his cabinet, and to require their written answers ; these 
he appears to have examined, and to have formed his own 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 41 

opinion ; sometimes requiring a discussion of these opinions 
in his presence. 

The country was already divided into parties, for and 
against, making a common cause with Franco. That in 
favor of it, severely condemned the proclamation ; the 
other approved of it in the highest terms. The former 
denounced it as a royal edict, and as a daring assumption 
of power ; while the other upheld it as a new proof of the 
wisdom and patriotism which had always distinguished 
Washington. About this time, there were introduced from 
France imitations of what was there called the Jacobin 
Club. This club (so called from its place of meeting) was 
composed of certain prominent men who met to decide what 
the measures of the government should be, and they accom- 
plished their objects by intrigue and terror. The institu- 
tions of the same sort here, were formed for the ostensible 
purpose of preserving civil liberty, but for the real purpose 
of overawing the government. They were here called 
" Democratic Societies, " by their members, and '* Jacobin 
Clubs, " by their adversaries. They had an affinity with 
each other, by means of corresponding committees. They 
approved of all the excesses of the French Revolution. In 
some of their festivals, especially in Philadelphia, extraor- 
dinary ceremonies are said to have occurred, in the pres- 
ence, too, of distinguished men. But the memory of them 
has passed away ; and it is probable, that the agents in 
these scenes lived to regret them. It can be no otherwise 
useful to refer to them, than to show the character of the 
times ; and the excessive enthusiasm which the transactions 
of France inspired ; and how embarrassing it was to our 
own government. Washington felt these combinations, as 
being destructive of all social order ; and is supposed to 
have alluded to them in his farewell address, in speaking of 
" secret societies." He mentioned them again and again, 
with the most decided disapprobation, in his private letters. 

The first minister that appeared here from the French 
republic, was the " citizen " Genet, who is said to have insti- 
tuted the Jacobin Clubs in the United States. His employ- 
ers assumed, that the United States were to engage, at once, 
in the war ; and he was authorized to commission privateers, 
and to raise, in the United States, forces to attack British 
and Spanish possessions on this side of the water. He 
4* 



42 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



seemed to consider himself entirely independent of the 
government of the United States. He was a man of mid- 
dling stature, and full person, (as now recollected,) and of 
ardent and animated temperament. 

It is usual for a foreign minister to present his creden- 
tials to the government to which he is sent, and to be 
received as such before he begins to exercise his functions. 
But the citizen Genet did not stop for such ceremonies. He 
landed at Charleston, S. C, on the 8th April. He was there 
received with every demonstration of respect and joy, as 
the representative of the great nation ; and during his resi- 
dence there, assumed to issue commissions, for the arming, 
fitting out, and manning with Americans, vessels of war 
" to cruise and commit hostilities on nations with whom the 
" United States were at peace." {Marshall, v. 411.) 

His journey from Charleston to Philadelphia, was as that 
of a victorious chief, to whom a country was indebted for 
its salvation. He arrived at Philadelphia on the IGth of 
May, and was there received in a manner which might 
have misled a more intelligent man than citizen Genet. It 
strikes one with some surprise, that such events could have 
occurred in this country. One cannot look back on the 
enthusiasm and gratitude felt for republican France, with- 
out feeling how easily good sense and discretion may for- 
sake a people. But wc look back under the influence of 
events of posterior times, and as though these ought then to 
have been foreseen. Regarding this matter dispassionately, 
nothing was more natural than this enthusiasm. Grateful 
attachment to France while a monarchy, and detestation of 
England as a royal tyranny, had long been the common 
sentiment of the whole country. Now that France had 
become a republic, and was contending, to maintain her- 
self, against England and royalty, the duty and interest of 
siding with France was too certain to admit of reasoning, — 
it was an irresistible feeling. The greater, then, is the esti- 
mation in which Washington's foresight should be held, 
since he saw through, and far beyond this excitement; and, 
most honorable to him, was that magnanimity which op- 
posed itself to the popular clamor. 

Genet was astonished to find, that he could not carry on 
the war from this country, by exercising the powers of sove- 
reignty in arming vessels, and having their prizes con- 



OF PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 43 

demned by French consuls. The government was deter- 
mined to adhere to the strictest neutrality ; to which Genet 
had no objection, provided he could carry on the war him- 
self; as though belligerent operations could be conduct- 
ed in a neutral country in the name of a party to a war, 
without making that country a party in it. This he insisted 
on doing ; and when told that he would be resisted by force, 
he threatened to appeal from the President to the people. 
The controversies with Mr. Genet were exceedingly em- 
barrassing to the President. On one occasion he had to 
call on Governor Mifflin, of Pennsylvania, to prevent the 
sailing of a vessel which had been brought in, as prize by 
a French frigate, and converted into a privateer at Phila- 
delphia, and named Le petit Democrat. It was on this 
occasion, that Genet told Alexander J. Dallas, secretary to 
Governor Mifflin, that he would appeal to the people. Mr. 
Dallas is the same gentleman, who was afterwards Sec- 
retary of the Treasury of the United States. He was a 
lawyer of some eminence, a tall man, of good manners, 
marked with the small pox, (if rightly remembered,) 
and of inexhaustible eloquence. A speech of two, three, 
or even four days, was not an unusual effort with him. 
About twenty-five years ago he came to Boston to argue a 
cause. He was a very fluent speaker, but diffusive, and 
fanciful. He was entirely on the French side of American 
feeling, as was Governor Mifflin. The conduct of Mr. 
Genet became so insolent, and offensive, that the President 
required of Gouverneur Morris to demand of the French 
government, his recall. Morris Avas then minister at Paris. 
Genet was recalled, though his mission would have termina- 
ted if he had not been, as in the revolutionary movements 
in France, the party to which he was indebted for his min- 
istry, was overthrown. Mr. Genet remained in the United 
States, and retired to the interior of the state of New York, 
where he lately deceased. He was succeeded by Mr, 
Fauchet, whose agency was no less conspicuous, though 
conducted with more regard to diplomatic usage than Mr. 
Genet's. 

In the prosecution of the war, between France and 
England, in 1793, two serious difficulties arose. The 
French having immense armies on foot, and the laboring 
population having been drawn forth by military conscrip- 



44 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

tions, the want of provisions became very pressing. France 
depended, to some extent, on supplies from America. The 
English had the command of the ocean, and, in June, 
issued an order to stop all vessels bound to France, loaded 
with flour, corn, or meal ; and to take them into port, unload 
them, pay for the cargoes and freight, and then liberate the 
vessels. There was no doubt, that this was a strong meas- 
ure, and whether defensible, or not, on any construction 
of the law of nations, it is not the present purpose to 
inquire. The order gave great dissatisfaction in the United 
States. 

The other difficulty was, that the British then began to 
impress seamen from American vessels. Impressment has 
been an immemorial usage in England ; and she asserts the 
right of taking her own subjects, wherever found, in time 
of war. The difficulty of distinguishing between her own, 
and other subjects, often led to the impressment of Amer- 
icans. This became a subject of very serious and just 
complaint. Whether England might take persons out of 
American vessels, who were born British subjects, but who 
had been naturalized in the United States, was another 
point of difference. England contended that her subjects 
can never abandon their allegiance, and may be taken on 
the high seas from any but a national vessel of war. Dur- 
ing the administration of Mr. Jefferson, and that of Mr. 
Madison, the protection, not only of naturalized persons, 
but of all persons sailing in merchant vessels, bearing the 
American flag, was contended for, and was fostered into 
one of the causes for declaring war. This point remains 
as it was, forty years ago, though rather worse for the war, 
undertaken to sustain the American pretension. From the 
national similarity of the English and Americans, it is 
apparent, that it is a subject of intrinsic difficulty ; and one 
that can be settled only by a course of negotiation, little 
likely to occur. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 45 



LETTER XIV. 



March 6, 1833, 



The effect of the aggressions of England during the year 
1793, and the partiality for France, were apparent, at the 
next meeting of Congress, on the 4th of December. There 
was a majority of about ten votes against the administration, 
as appeared in the choice of speaker. The opposition sup- 
ported Mr. Muhlenberg, the federalists Mr. Sedgwick. 
Thus it may be considered, that the federal administration 
was destined to fall, and that the political system which the 
federalists had founded, would, " ere long," pass into the 
hands of those who had always been its enemies. 

The speech of Washington, at the opening of the session, 
was comprehensive and luminous, and well deserves the 
study of all who would understand the elements of the great 
political events which followed. Mr. Jefferson (Secretary 
of State) presented his detaded and ingenious report on 
commercial relations. This also deserves an attentive study, 
since it shows the principles of the policy which was carried 
into effect under his presidency. As these are matters of 
history, ably set forth in Marshall's fifth volume, it would be 
only transcription to notice them more fully ; nor would it 
be expedient to do so, in these hasty sketches. Mr. Jeffer- 
son had intimated his intention to resign his office some 
months before this time. He was prevailed on (as he says) 
to remain, untd the 31st of December, 1793, and then with- 
drew. The most favorable account of Mr. Jefferson's offi- 
cial conduct, by any judicious and impartial writer, is that 
given by Chief Justice Marshall, who is incapable of doing 
injustice to any man, even when a political opponent. On 
this occasion he was telling truth, with the sanction of his 
own high reputation, and on as interesting a subject as ever 
engaged the attention of any historian — The Life of Wash- 
ington. It is rather to be supposed, from his well known 
character, that he was careful not to make himself liable to 
the imputation of having performed a trust, unfavorably to 
one, whose opinions he might not have approved. 

This able historian's view of Mr. Jefferson at this period 
should be considered, because it gives a key to his subse- 



46 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

quent political life. Chief Justice Marshall says, at a time 
when Mr. Jefferson was living, (vol. v. 488,) among other 
things : " This gentleman withdrew from political station, 
" at a moment when he stood particularly high in the es- 
" teem of his countrymen. His fixed opposition to the 
" financial schemes proposed by the Secretary of the Trea- 
" sury, and approved by the legislative and executive de- 
'* partments of the government ; his ardent and undisguised 
" attachment to the revolutionary party in France ; the 
" dispositions ichich he was declared to possess in regard 
" to Great Britain ; and the popularity of his opinions 
" respecting the constitution of the United States ; had 
*' devoted to him that immense party whose sentiments 
" were supposed to comport with his on most, or all these 
" interesting subjects. To the opposite party, he had, of 
" course, become particularly unacceptable. But the publi- 
" cation of his correspondence with Mr. Genet, dissipated 
" much of the prejudice which had been excited against 
"him. He had, in that correspondence, maintained, with 
*' great ability, the opinions maintained by the federalists on 
" those points of difference, which had arisen between the 
" two republics. The partiality for France, which was 
" conspicuous through the whole of it, detracted nothing 
" from its merits, in the opinion of the friends of the ad- 
" ministration, because, however decided they might be to 
" support their own government in a controversy with any 
" nation whatever, they felt all the partiality for that nation 
*' which the correspondence expressed. The hostility of his 
" enemies, therefore, was for a time considerably lessened, 
" without a corresponding diminution of the attachment of 
*' his friends. In office it would have been impracticable 
" long to preserve these dispositions. And it would have 
*' been diflicult to maintain that ascendency which he held 
" over the minds who had supported (and would probably 
" continue to support) every pretension of the French 
" Republic, without departing from principles and measures 
" which he had openly and ably defended." 

It may not then have been Mr. Jefferson's love of his 
" clover fields," and desire of retirement, that carried him 
back (3lst December, 1793,) to Monticello ; but his percep- 
tion of the same truths which were obvious to the historian. 
It is well remembered that Genet openly charged Mr. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 47 

Jefferson with having " a language official, and a language 
confidential." * He may have entertained very different 
opinions as secretary, from tliose which he entertained as a 
man, and which he miglit fearlessly act upon when he 
attained to the presidency. 

Mr. Jefferson mentions Chief Justice Marshall several 
times, in his volumes, with some sensibility. In writing to 
his old friend John Adams, under date of January 15, 1813, 
(vol. iv. 195,) he remarks : " Marshall has written libels on 
"one side; others, I suppose, will be written on the other 
" side ; and the world will sift both, and separate the truth 
" as well as they can." 

The session of Congress commenced on the 4th of De- 
cember, 1793, was one of the most important and interest- 
ing that had hitherto occurred. It intimated the motives of 
parties, as they have since been developed, in public affairs. 
Both branches were composed of able men, and among them 
were some of the most eminent. The House of Representa- 
tives was nearly equally divided on great questions. The 
members who might be regarded as the most prominent in 
the Senate, were George Cabot, Caleb Strong, Oliver Ells- 
worth, Aaron Burr, Rufus King, Robert Morris, Albert 
Gallatin. In the House of Representatives, were Abraham 
Baldwin, William B. Giles, William B. Grove, Richard 
Bland Lee, Nathaniel Macon, James Madison, John Francis 
Mercer, F. A. Muhlenburg, Josiah Parker, Thomas Sump- 
ter, Abraham Venable, Alexander White, who voted gen- 
erally together. And on the other side, were Fisher Ames, 
Robert Barnwell, Egbert Benson, Jonathan Dayton, Thomas 
Fitzsimons, Nicholas Gilman, Benjamin Goodhue, James 
Hillhouse, William Hindman, Daniel Huger, Philip Key, 
John Laurence, Samuel Livermore, William Vans Mur- 
ray, Theodore Sedgwick, Jeremiah Smith, William Smith, 
Jeremiah Wadsworth, Artemas Ward, who on most occa- 
sions voted together ; and sometimes Elbridge Gerry voted 
with them. 

To such men fell the duty of investigating the principles 



* Mr. Jefferson, in a letter to Mr. G. Morris, says : " If our citizens 
"have not already been shedding each other's blood, it is not owing 
" to the moderation of Mr. Genet, but to the forbearance of the gov- 
" ernment." 



48 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

which ought to regulate commercial relations with all foreign 
countries, at a time when all Europe was in the parox- 
ysm of revolution ; and when the Mediterranean commerce 
was at the mercy of the Algerines ; and the citizens of this 
country divided almost to the line of civil war, among them- 
selves. In this high excitement the fortress which was to 
be demolished, or protected, was the Washington adminis- 
tration. 

The first great legislative movement arose on Mr. Madi- 
son's resolutions on commercial affairs, presented on the 4th 
January, 1'794 ; (founded on Mr. Jefferson's report.) This 
gentleman had disclosed similar views on the subject of ton- 
nage duty, at the first Congress. The debate was long and 
acrimonious. The feelings of the House, and the character 
of the debate, may be judged of from this incident : Mr. 
Ames said, the resolutions had French stamped on the very 
face of them. 

Josiah Parker, of Virginia, replied, that he wished there 
was a stamp on every forehead, to designate whether he was 
for France or Britain. 

The two parties were so nearly balanced in the House of 
Representatives, that measures, deeply affecting the per- 
manent interests of the United States, might be settled by 
majorities not exceeding five. In the Senate, the Vice 
President had, repeatedly, to settle the most important ques- 
tions by his casting vote. An act to cut off all intercourse 
with Great Britain, passed the House by a small majority; 
in the Senate its fate depended on the casting vote of the 
Vice President, who voted against it. 

Inquiry into the official conduct of Hamilton, as Secretary 
of the Treasury, was renewed at this session. Mr. Giles, 
Mr. Monroe, Mr. Venable, all Virginians, and all of them 
personal enemies of the Secretary, conducted the inquiry 
with the utmost scrutiny ; but their efforts, even in these 
bitterest times of party, were unavailing. The result was 
most honorable to the Secretary. 

The great subjects suggested in the Presideiit's message, 
and in official reports, at the early part of the session, were 
under consideration in the two branches, from the beginning 
of January to the 16th of April. The French excitement 
could rise no higher among the people. They insisted that 
the friends of France should declare themselves by wearing 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 49 

the national cockade. They insisted, too, on war against 
England ; and that every motive of self-respect, and justice, 
forbade a moment's delay : while every motive of gratitude 
to the nation which had made us free, and were now struo-- 
gling to maintain their own freedom, demanded all our aid. 
In the two branches of Congress the war of words disclosed 
a state of feeling, which the decorum of the place hardly 
restrained from full expression. 

We live now in times of some interest ; and which ouo-ht 
to be far more interesting than they are. No one, not old 
enough to remember the state of feeling at that time, can 
have any conception, from what is now experienced, of the 
intense excitement which then prevailed. 



LETTER XV. 

March 9, 1833. 

In this state of things, Congress, and the whole country, 
were brought to a sudden pause, by the appointment of John 
Jay, then Chief Justice of the United States, to be Envoy 
Extraordinary to Great Britain. This was an unexpected 
blow to the French party. As soon as they could rally, the 
administration was attacked, not only for the measure itself, 
that is, opening a negotiation at all, but especially, that the 
President should have nominated such a man as John Jay, 
and furthermore a judicial officer. It may be some relief in 
recurring to these dry and forgotten facts, to state what is 
recollected of the personal appearance and conduct of 
Mr. Jay. 

Soon after Mr. Jay's appointment to the office of Chief 
Justice, he came to Boston to hold a court. As now 
remembered, his personal appearance indicated his origin. 
He was descended from one of the French Protestant fami- 
lies, usually called Huguenots. This name, which is of un- 
certain derivation, was, like Puritans, given to a certain class 
of Christians. It will be recollected that in 1C9S, when 
Henry IV. fought his way to the crown, he issued the 
edict of Nantz, by which he assured to all his Protestant 
subjects, the rights and privileges enjoyed by those who were 
5 



50 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Catholics. Tn 1685, this edict was revoked by Louis XIV. ; 
at the instigation, it is said, of one of his female favorites, 
who had great power over him. 

The Huguenots escaped from France, and carried with 
them skill, talents, industry and property, and established 
themselves in different parts of Europe. Many families found 
their way to America in the course of time. France is sup- 
posed to have lost, by persecution and emigration, a million 
of its best subjects. Mr. Jay's family came over, and settled 
in New York. He was born in this country. He was forty- 
four years of age when appointed Chief Justice in 1790. 
His height was a little less than six feet ; his person rather 
thin, but well formed. His complexion was without color, 
his eyes black and penetrating, his nose aquiline, and his 
chin pointed. His hair came over his forehead, was tied 
behind, and lightly powdered. His dress black. The ex- 
pression of his face was exceedingly amiable. When stand- 
ing, he was a little inclined forward, as is not uncommon 
with students long accustomed to bend over a table. His 
manner was very gentle, and unassuming. This impres- 
sion of him was renewed in 1795, in New York. He had 
returned from his mission to England in that year, and had 
been chosen Governor of New York, which office he assum- 
ed in July. He was then about fifty, (December, 1795.) His 
deportment was tranquil and unassuming ; and one who had 
met him, not knowing who he was, would not have been 
led to suppose, that he was in the presence of one eminently 
gifl;ed by nature with intellectual power, and who had sus- 
tained so many offices of high trust and honor. About six 
years after this time, he retired from public life, and almost 
from the world, and passed the remainder of his days at the 
family estate at West Chester. He took no part in political 
affairs, and was not publicly heard of, except in two or three 
instances, when he answered inquiries concerning facts 
within his knowledge. 

History will assign to John Jay an elevated rank among 
the great ; nor only so, it will place him equally high among 
the pure and the virtuous. Throughout his useful and hon- 
orable life, he was governed by the dictates of an enlighten- 
ed Christian conscience. He thought and acted under the 
conviction, that there is an accountability far more serious 
than any which men can have to their fellow men. The 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 51 

bravest soldiers, and the worthiest statesmen, have ever been 
those who believed in such accountability. 

Other events of the year 1794, remain to be mentioned. 
Concrress adjourned June 9th, in very ill humor. In Feb- 
ruary before, Mr. Fauchet had arrived as minister from 
France, having with him two associates, or counsellors, of 
consular rank. The French government requested the 
recall of Mr. G. Morris, who had taken no pains to conceal 
his disapprobation of the revolutionary proceedings. This 
was complied with, and Mr. Monroe, to whom no such 
objection could be made, was his successor. 

In August, 1794, the whiskey rebellion had taken so seri- 
ous a character in Pennsylvania, that an army was formed, 
composed of volunteers from that state, and detachments of 
militia from New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia. The 
Governor (Mifflin) exerted himself very honorably on this 
occasion ; and took command of the troops of his state. 
The Governor of New Jersey commanded the troops of 
that state. Those of Maryland and Virginia, as well as the 
others, were under command of General Henry Lee, then 
Governor of Virginia. When these troops had assembled at 
tw^o respective places of encampment, Washington visited 
them, and directed Hamilton to accompany them to the 
West. The insurgents did not venture to meet this force ; 
and the rebellion ceased without conflict. Two individuals 
were tried and convicted, and afterwards pardoned. No 
further opposition was then made to the excise law\ It is 
supposed that this rebellion was instigated by some men of 
intelligence and influence ; but there is no such certainty of 
this, as would justify the mention of names. 

Durinor this year the democratic societies, or Jacobin 
Clubs, had extended themselves over the whole country, and 
took a most active and offensive part against the adminis- 
tration. They assumed that '* the people " had the right to 
dictate to the government the measures to be pursued ; and 
that they were " the people." These societies were attacked 
in various w-ays from the press and otherwise ; sometimes by 
severe reproach, and sometimes by satire. They gradually 
became odious, and disappeared. 

In 1794 the celebrated Talleyrand was in the United 
States. He had been required to leave England. In July 
and August he was in Boston. His personal appearance was 



52 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

as remarkable as his character. His height was above 
middle stature, hair light, complexion sallow, eyes blue ; 
mouth wide and far from handsome. His body was large, 
and protuberant in front, his lower limbs remarkably small 
and his feet deformed. He declined speaking English, 
whether he could, or not. He may have been about forty 
years of age. The expression of his face was tranquil, 
and his manner that of a cool observer. Little is known 
of what he did observe, except from a small publication 
which he made on his return to France.* No man lives who 
has seen a greater variety of fortune. The world would be 
his debtor, if he should bestow upon it his knowledge of the 
secret springs of political events. This is not to be ex- 
pected. He will probably withdraw with little solicitude as 
to what is said, or done ; believed or discredited, after he is 
gone. 

At the close of the year 1794, General Knox resigned 
his place as Secretary at War, and came to Boston. His 
successor was Timothy Pickering, who was at that time 
Postmaster General. When Hamilton returned from the 
western expedition towards the close of the year, he gave 
notice that he should resign on the 31st of January follow- 
ing. His successor was Oliver Wolcott. 

The last important public act of Hamilton, and perhaps 
not inferior to any one, was a report on the means of sus- 
taining the public credit, embracing a comprehensive view 
of the system which he had pursued. The present unex- 
pected reduction of the public debt, is entirely the conse- 
quence of Hamilton's measures. He may safely rest his 
fame, as a statesman, on his labor and success in placing 
the public credit, so essential in war and peace, on a firm 
foundation. It is perfectly in keeping, that anti-federal 
rulers should assume to have won the plumes which they 
found in the seats of their predecessors, and should wear 
them with the insolence, which is the privilege of plun- 
derers. 



* It is entitled, Memoir concerning the Commercial Relations of 
the United States and England ; bj' citizen Talleyrand, read at the 
National Institute ; 15 Messidor year V. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 53 



LETTER XVI. 

March 11, 1833. 

Mr. Jay arrived in England in June, 1794. In Novem- 
ber a treaty was siorned. It arrived in the United States on 
the 7th of March tbllowing. The President, to prevent the 
preoccupation of the public mind did not allow its provis- 
ions to be known by any person but Mr. Randolph. Yet 
within two days, a series of essays was commenced in a 
newspaper in Philadelphia, condemning the treaty in the 
most opprobrious terms. The treaty had not been published 
in England ; and no copy had been received by the British 
Minister. The President was astonished at the publication, 
and had no suspicion of the channel through which it oc- 
curred. The Senate was convened on the 9th of June. 
Pending the discussion in the Senate, one of the opposition 
members, Mr. Mason, of Virginia, took a copy and caused 
it to be published in a Philadelphia paper. The whole 
country was immediately inflamed. Not only the opposi- 
tion, but a large portion of those who had supported the 
administration, were against the ratification. The former 
now attacked the President personally, through the public 
papers. They denied to him all qualifications of a states- 
man or even of a soldier. They charged him with being 
the tool of England, and with having fraudulently drawn 
money from the treasury. Addresses were sent in from 
nearly all the seaports, and from many interior towns, stating 
the reasons why the treaty should not be ratified. In Bos- 
ton, at a town-meeting, there was but one man who raised 
his voice in favor of it. But the chamber of commerce, 
composed of all the respectable merchants, sent almost 
unanimously, their address of approbation. 

Amidst all this ferment Washington stood as firm and 
undisturbed as he had ever done, relying on the conscious- 
ness of performing his duty, with all the intelligence which 
could apply to the subject. His letter to the Selectmen of 
Boston, is worth transcribing, to show the serenity of a 
great and good mind, under as trying circumstances as can 
occur to any man. 

5* 



54 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

United States, 28th July, 1795. 
Gentlemen : 

In every act of my administration, I have sought the hap- 
piness of my fellow-citizens. My system, for the attain- 
ment of this object, has been, to overlook all personal, 
local, and partial considerations ; to contemplate the United 
States as one great whole ; to confide, that sudden impres- 
sions, when erroneous, would yield to candid reflection ; 
and to consult only the permanent, and substantial interests 
of our country. Nor have I departed from this line of 
conduct, on the occasion which has produced the resolu- 
tions contained in your letter of the 13th inst. 

Without a predilection for my own judgment, I have 
weighed, with attention, every argument which has at any 
time been brought into view. But the constitution is the 
guide which I never can abandon. It has assigned to the 
President the power of making treaties, with the advice 
and consent of the Senate. It was doubtless supposed, that 
these two branches would combine, without passion, and 
with the best means of information, those facts and prin- 
ciples on which the success of our foreign relations w'ill 
always depend ; that they ought not to substitute, for their 
own convictions, the opinions of others ; or to seek truth 
through any channel, but that of a temperate and well 
informed investigation. 

Under this persuasion I have resolved on the manner of 
executing the duty before me. To the high responsibility 
attached to it, I freely submit; and you, gentlemen, are at 
liberty to make these sentiments known, as the grounds of 
my procedure. While I feel the most lively gratitude for 
the many instances of approbation from my country, I can 
no otherwise deserve it, than by obeying the dictates of 
my conscience. 

W^ith due respect, I am, Gentlemen, Your Ob't. 

Geo. Washington. 

The treaty was ratified on the ■24th of June, by precisely 
the constitutional majority, (two thirds,) after an investiga- 
tion continued from the 9th of the same month. 

At the very time when these addresses were pouring 
upon the President from all quarters, an incident occurred 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. £>D 

of deep interest to him, to his Secretary Mr. Randolph, and 
to the whole country. It also disclosed the character of 
French diplomacy, under the new republic, in a very unex- 
pected manner. The unfortunate French nation, had voted 
down the only rational support of public and private morals. 
They had raised a deity, whom they called Reason, and to 
whom they rendered their worship. With such creed, 
worship, and their national enthusiasm, they had become 
a terrible people to the civilized world. They were so 
thought of, by the considerate people of the United States. 
But not by the opposition to Washington, and his measures. 
Clearly, not by Mr. Jefferson. He, on the contrary, be- 
held in the success of French power, diplomatic and 
martial, the overthrow of " monarchists, Anglomen, and 
federalism ; " the downfall of England, and the fruition of 
all the blessings, which he and his associates had to bestow 
on his country, as soon as the opportunity should arrive. 



LETTER XVII. 

March 17, 1833. 

Mr. Fauchet's instructions and authority, appear to have 
been much of the same import with those of Genet, but he 
was much more of a diplomatist. In October he framed a 
despatch, giving his views of the state of the country, and of 
parties, and an account of his intercourse with the friends 
of France in the United States. His communication was 
sent by the Jean Bart, a French privateer, which was 
captured by a British frigate. As the frigate's boat ap- 
proached the privateer, Fauchet's despatches were thrown 
overboard. There was an English captain on board the 
privateer, whose ship the privateer had taken. This captain 
followed the despatches, (supposing them to be his own ship's 
papers,) seized them, and kept afloat till the frigate's boat 
came to him. These were sent to Mr. Hammond, British 
minister at Philadelphia, and by him delivered to Mr. Wol- 
cott, who carried them to the President as soon as he 
returned from Mount Vernon, the 11th of August. Mr. 
Wolcott had received them the 28th of July. 



56 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Every one who remembers any thing of the political 
events of that day, cannot have forgotten " the precious 
confessions" of Edmund Randolph, then Secretary of State. 
Whether Fauchet told the truth or not, this is his language : 
" Two or three days before the proclamation " (of the Presi- 
dent on the western insurrection) " was published, and of 
" course before the cabinet had resolved on its measures, the 
" Secretary of State came to my house. All his countenance 
" was grief. He requested of me a private conversation. 
" It is all over, he said to me ; a civil war is about to ravage 
" our unhappy country. Four men, by their talents, their 
" influence, and their energy, may save it. But, debtors of 
" English merchants, they will be deprived of their liberty if 
" they take the smallest step. Could you lend them instan- 
" taneously funds sufficient to shelter them from English 
"prosecution? This inquiry astonished me much. It was 
"impossible for me to make a satisfactory answer. You 
" know my want of power and deficiency in pecuniary 
" means." " Thus with some thousands of dollars the Re- 
" public could have decided on civil war or peace. Thus 
" the consciences of the pretended jicitriots of America have 
" cdready their prices." " What will be the old age of this 
" government, if it is thus already decrepit! " 

When the despatches of Fauchet were made known to 
the President, he was still deliberating on the ratification 
of the treaty. The causes of Mr. Randolph's determined 
opposition, and of the advice which Randolph had so often 
given in his official station, were now fully disclosed. On 
the 12th the President held a council with his three Secre- 
taries, (Pickering, Wolcott, and Randolph,) on the ratifica- 
tion, probably to see for himself, among other things, the 
manifestation of Mr. Randolph's views. He continued to 
treat Mr. Randolph with his usual courtesy, while the de- 
spatches were in the hands of a translator ; and on the 15th 
and 18th received Mr. Randolph at his table. On the 19th, 
while the President was conversing with Mr. Pickering and 
Mr. Wolcott, Randolph came in. The President rose and 
presented to him the intercepted letter, and requested him 
to explain it, if he could. Perceiving his confusion, the 
President proposed to him to step into another room and 
consider of it. He presently returned, and said he would 
make his explanation in writing. Soon after he resigned. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 57 

Mr. Randolph published a defence, after following Mr. 
Fauchet to Newport, (Rhode Island,) whitlier Fauchet had 
gone to embark for France. Mr. Randolph reached New- 
port on the 31st, but failed to obtain a countervailing cer- 
tificate. Fauchet promised it, but sailed without giving it. 
In the midst of all these vexations the, President ratified 
the treaty on the 14th of August. 

The general sentiment at the time was, that Mr. Ran- 
dolph had abused the confidence which the President placed 
in him, and that his party devotion had subjected him to 
severe reproach. To what extent Mr. Randolph was cul- 
pable, it is not material to inquire. With Mr. Randolph, as 
an individual, there is no intention to interfere, but only to 
show what the state of the country was, and what the 
influence of French feeling was. 

Mr. Randolph (at Richmond) in the autumn of 1796 
had returned to the practice of the law. He was obviously 
under a cloud. His appearance was that of a dejected 
being. Mr. Randolph was a man of large person, with a 
heavy, grave face. His reputation, as a lawyer, was very 
respectable. At this day, candor compels us to say, that 
Mr. Randolph had no treasonable views with regard to his 
own country. He may have been so misled by the excite- 
ment of the times, as to have justified to himself any thing 
that would tend to the injury of England, and to the benefit 
of France. But how far he could justify his acts on this 
ground, while he held the station of Secretary, and had the 
confidence of the President, is quite another consideration. 

Timothy Pickering, who was at this time Secretary of 
War, was charged with the duties of Secretary of State on 
Mr. Randolph's resignation, and appointed to this office 
in December following. In January following, James 
McHenry was appointed to the office which Mr. Pickering 
had left. Between the month of August and the end of the 
year, several events occurred which will merely be men- 
tioned to keep up the connexion with those more interesting. 

Favorable treaties had been made with the Indians in the 
west and in the south ; of the latter we have lately heard 
something in connexion with the movements in Georgia. 
The Algerines had taken our vessels, and held many 
Americans as slaves. A treaty was made with them, as 
the United States had no maritime force to prevent their 



58 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

aggressions. There had been indications that some ar- 
rangement might be made with Spain concerning the dis- 
puted rights on the Mississippi, and on the navigation of 
that river. William Short, of Virginia, was minister resi- 
dent in Spain, and was succeeded the next summer by a 
gentleman of South Carolina, Thomas Pinckney, usually 
called Governor Pinckney, to distinguish him from Charles 
Cotesvvorth Pinckney and his brother Thomas, then minis- 
ter at London. Governor Pinckney was not of the family 
of Charles and Thomas, unless by some remote relation, 
and was a very different character from either of them. 
There was a fourth gentleman (William) of this name, of 
much celebrity, and especially in the profession of the law. 
He was not of the Pinckney families of South Carolina. 
He was of Maryland, and his name was written Pinkney. 
The two brothers, in pursuance of their father's positive 
direction by will, received the best education, and were at 
Westminster School in England and at Oxford ; and w-ere 
admitted to the Bar in London. Both of them served in 
the war of the revolution ; and both of them were among 
the most honorable and excellent of the land. They were 
afterwards candidates for the presidency. Thomas was a 
man of about six feet in stature, of well formed, thin person, 
of tranquil, modest appearance, and had the reputation of 
being a person of high intellectual cultivation, and was 
certainly of most amiable deportment. Being one day on 
the edge of the cliff, which overlooks the falls of the Mohawk 
river, he employed himself in loosening some large stones 
to roll down the precipice. As they descended, he repeated 
lines from the Latin and Greek poets which are descriptive 
of the noise made by the rolling, rapid descent of a stone. 

Charles, the elder brother, made a visit to the east in 
1804, and passed the summer at Boston and in its vicinity. 
He was of middle stature, and rather a full person com- 
pared with his brother. He was quite bald on the top of 
his head ; his hair was short and gray at the sides. His 
countenance was grave, but the expression was intelligent 
and amiable ; his manners calm and dignified. He was 
one of those who carry, in their appearance, the certificate of 
having always been gentlemen. He wore boots and spurs 
constantly, and was said to wear them even on ship board. 
Thomas, though not joined in the commission, was Mr- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 59 

Jay's assistant and counsellor in the negotiation at London 
in 1794. Of Charles, there will be occasion to speak again. 
He was probably about sixty years of age in 1804. 



LETTER XVIII. 

March 20, 1833. 

The year 1796 was one of perplexing eiubarrassment to 
the government from the manner in which England and 
France conducted their war. It was made still more so by 
Mr. Adet, who came over in June, 1795, as successor of 
Fauchet. This gentleman was incessantly complaining of 
infractions of the treaty with France, and of the violation of 
neutrality. He lost no opportunity of reminding the Ameri- 
cans of their debt of gratitude to France, though if the true 
motives of the French in giving their aid, were known, it 
would probably deduct essentially from the moral obligation, 
however important the acts done may have been. When 
Mr. Monroe went to France he had a most brotherly recep- 
tion ; tears in every eye ; all which he duly reciprocated. 
He carried with him the American flag to present to the 
National Assembly ; by what authority this was done, does 
not appear. Mr. Adet brought out a French flag, to return 
the compliment. New year's day was appointed for the pre- 
sentation of this flag to the President. Among other things, 
Mr. Adet said, " I am convinced that every citizen will 
" receive, with a pleasing emotion, this flag, elsewhere the 
" terror of the enemies of liberty ; here, the certain pledge 
" of faithful friendship ; — especially when we recollect, that 
" it guides to combat men who have shared their toils, and 
" who were prepared for liberty, by aiding them to acquire 
" their own." This speech drew from Washington that mem- 
orable reply, uttered with the full dignity of the man, and of 
the office which he filled : " Born, sir, in a land of liberty ; 
" having early learned its value ; having engaged in a 
" perilous conflict to defend it ; having, in a w ord, devoted 
" the best years of my life to secure its permanent establish- 
" ment in my country ; my anxious recollections, my sympa- 
" thetic feelings, and my best wishes are irresistibly excited, 



60 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" whensoever in any country, I s^e an oppressed nation 
" unfurl the banners of freedom." 

He finished with saying, — "I rejoice that liberty, which 
" you have so long embraced with enthusiasm, now finds an 
" asylum in the bosom of a regularly organized government." 

The flag so presented, and so accepted, Avas deposited in 
the " archives," as like things are, and not in view, as the 
French minister intended it should be. On the 9th of the 
same month he wrote a letter of complaint to the Secretary 
of State, that the flag had been so shut up; and demanded 
that it should be exalted and displayed in the House of 
Representatives ; and said that the disposal made of it 
" would be looked upon by the Republic as a mark of con- 
" tempt or indifference." But he had, as he had often 
occasion to know, a sturdy old Roman to deal with in 
Timothy Pickering, and the flag remained where it was. 

Soon after Mr. Adet complained of the impressment of 
American seamen by the British, as a wrong done to France ; 
and that the United States were thereby voluntarily strength- 
ening the enemies of the Republic, and endangering the 
liberties of his country. And again, happening to see an 
almanac, in which the order of foreign rank, therein pub- 
lished, placed England and Spain before the RepulDlic, 
he sent a formal letter demanding a correction of this 
injustice, or a disavowal of it, by the executive. Mr. Pick- 
ering answered, that Americans printed almanacs as they 
pleased, and that the government had nothing to do with it ; 
but added, for his consolation, that there Avas an alma- 
nac printed in Boston, in which the Republic was ranked 
first. 

Such trifles show the temper of the times ; but there are 
other things of far different import. The controversies about 
armed vessels, public and private, within the waters of the 
United States, both English and French, kept the cabinet in 
constant agitation. Besides these occurrences, French priva- 
teers, which had the right by treaty to come in, waylaid and 
captured American vessels, in some instances, within two 
hours after pilots had left them, and carried them to the 
West Indies for consular condemnation. Controversies arose, 
also, on the construction to be given to shipments of mer- 
chandise, by the law of nations, and by the existing treaties, 
which were closely argued in diplomatic intercourse with 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 61 

the French minister. He was sustained throughout, by the 
French Americans, who considered all he said and did to 
be right, and that all their own government did was entirely 
British, and intended to be so. But impartial history will 
show that never did any executive government struggle 
harder, and with good temper too, to adhere to the principles 
of strict neutrality, and to keep out of the war, which was 
overwhelming Europe. As to the complaints made by the 
French minister, and the manner in which they were an- 
swered, these may be found (among public documents ac- 
companying a message to Congress, January 17, 1797) in 
the very able letter of the Secretary of State to Mr. Pinck- 
ney, at that time minister to France. 

When the treaty with Great Britain took effect, by the 
interchange of ratifications, the whole country rung with 
renewed clamor, in which Washington's public services 
were remembered only as matters of reproach. At the 
session of Congress which commenced December, 1795, 
and continued into the summer of 1796, Theodore Sedgwick, 
of Massachusetts, moved a general proposition for making 
the laws necessary for carrying the treaties into effect made- 
with Algiers, the Indians, Spain, and Great Britain. The 
latter was soon separated from all the others, and the most 
ardent and most eloquent, and at the same time, most acri- 
monious debate ensued, ever known in the House of Repre- 
sentatives. Mr. Livingston, then of New York, and now 
minister to France, began by moving that the President 
should be called on for all the papers relating to the negotia- 
tion of the treaty. This motion was vehemently debated, 
and, after some days, carried by a majority of fifty-seven to 
thirty-five. The President answered, with his accustomed 
coolness and dignity, stating his reasons why the House of 
Representatives, which has no part in the treaty-making 
power, cannot be constitutionally entitled to the papers 
called for; and concluded with saying, " a just regard to the 
" constitution, and to the duties of my office, under all the 
" circumstances of this case, forbid a compliance with your, 
" request." This refusal was received with an indignation 
which the majority were at no pains to conceal. The same 
spirit was widely disseminated through the country, and 
every body felt wise enough to settle the constitutional ques- 
tion, whether the President was right or wrong, in this refusal. 
6 



62 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Most fortunately for the United States, as afterwards 
appeared from the operation of the treaty, public opinion 
had undergone an important change. Popular meetings 
were again held, and though many of the provisions of the 
treaty were thought to be objectionable, and though omis- 
sions were thought to be apparent, yet it could not be 
doubted that a majority, composed of the most respectable 
and intelligent citizens, were in favor of carrying the treaty 
into effect, with entire good faith. It is worthy of remark 
that Mr. Fox, in the British Parliament, complained that 
the treaty was very unfavorable to England. It is known, 
from Mr. Jay's, and from Mr. Pinckney's communications, 
that the treaty was as favorable to this country, as could 
have been obtained. 

The popular sentiment was felt in the House of Repre- 
sentatives, and, probably, had an important influence on the 
final result. The debate necessarily took the widest range. 
Europe — the belligerents — the character of the war — our 
condition — inevitable consequences — dissension among the 
branches of the government — popular enthusiasm — inter- 
est — duty — honor — inflamed party spirit — war — means 
wholly inadequate — confusion and anarchy — all figure in 
this memorable debate, and with the full glow of party ex- 
citement, which seemed to have been gathering from the 
first institution of the government, to storm forth on this 
occasion. All this may be seen in the mere printed skeleton 
of debate, which is silent as to tones, looks, and gestures. 
In a former page, the part which Mr. Ames took, on this 
occasion, has been noticed. Notwithstanding the state of 
his health, his speech comprises thirty-five closely printed 
octavo pages in Dr. Kirkland's compilation. This extract 
will give some idea of the character of the discussion : " Our 
" understandings have been addressed, it is true, and with 
" ability and effect ; but, I demand, has any corner of the 
" heart been left unexplored ? It has been ransacked to 
*' find auxiliary arguments ; and when that failed, to awaken 
" the sensibility that would require none. Every prejudice 
" and feeling has been summoned to listen to some peculiar 
" style of address ; and yet we seem to consider a douht as 
" an affront, that we are strangers to any influence but that 
" of unbiassed reason." 

In committee of the whole, the question on making laws 
to carry the treaty into effect, rested on the casting vote of 



I 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. C3 

the chairman. The final question in the House was carried 
by a majority of three only, fifty-one to forty-eight. It may 
gratify curiosity to mention some of the individuals who 
were then members of this brancli of the legislature. Among 
those who Aoted that it was expedient to make laws for 
carrying the treaty into effect, were, Fisher Ames, Theophi- 
lus Bradbury, Nicholas Gilman, Roger Griswold, R. G. 
Harper, James Hillhouse, Theodore Sedgwick, Jeremiah 
Smith, William Smith. Among those who voted in the 
negative were, Abraham Baldwin, Thomas Blount, Thomas 
Claiborne, Henry Dearborn, Albert Gallatin, William B. 
Giles, Wade Hampton, Edward Livingston, Nathaniel Ma- 
con, James Madison, Joseph B. Varnum. In all, fifty-one 
for, forty-eight against the measure. 

With a view to make known to France the true state of 
the country, and to remove all erroneous impressions, the 
President contemplated a special mission thither. He had 
the further inducement, that he was not satisfied with the 
ministry of Mr. Monroe. But finding that he was not 
authorized, as he considered, to create an office, without the 
assent of the Senate, but only to fill vacancies in an existing 
office, the design was relinquished. Mr. Monroe was re- 
called, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was appointed in 
September, 1796. Mr. Monroe took offence at being dis- 
placed, and came home, published a volume of justification, 
which probably aided him in attaining to the presidency. 
He therein assumes to say, that if a rupture should happen 
with France, it would not be occasioned by the misconduct 
of France, but by Washington's policy, which Monroe calls 
" short-sighted and bad." 



LETTER XIX. 



March 22, 1833. 



Soon after the adjournment of Congress, (June 1, 1796,) 
the President engaged himself in attempting the liberation 
of Lafayette. It will be remembered, that Lafayette, in the 
early part of the revolution, considering himself unsafe in 
France, retired from it, intending to find safety on neutral 



64 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

ground ; and that he was taken, by an Austrian patrol, and 
detained in a dungeon several years, first in the Prussian 
dominions, and afterwards within those of Austria. The 
President directed Mr. Pinckney, minister in London, to 
speak to the ministers from Prussia, and Austria, concern- 
ing the interest felt by him, in the fate of Lafayette. Find- 
ing that the object of his compassion had been transferred 
to the Em])eror of Austria, he wrote a letter to him on the 
subject. What effect this measure had, does not appear. 
In 179C Dr. Bollman was in this country. He had made a 
gallant attempt to free Lafayette, together with a young 
gentleman of South Carolina, (since known as Colonel 
Huger,) which was nearly successful. Bollman was a Ger- 
man ; he had nothing in his common deportment, of the 
zeal and enterprise, which such an attempt would imply. 
He was a tranquil, quiet gentleman ; with the air, neverthe- 
less, of a very determined man. Li the same year, the pres- 
ent Lord Lyndhurst was in the United States, by the name 
of Copley. He was a tranquil, quiet gentleman, also. He 
had the reputation of being a good scholar, but he gave no 
indication, at that time, that he was thereafter to be Lord 
Chancellor. He was rather above common stature — of 
thin person, light complexion, and large blue eyes ; and of 
very courteous manners. He was born in Boston, and was 
carried to England when about two years old, before the 
revolution. He made many friends here, and in other places 
at the south ; and was much esteemed. 

Towards the close of the year, the third election of presi- 
dent engaged the national attention. Washington was 
earnestly solicited to be a candidate again. All who had 
opposed his administration, were still more earnest that he 
should not. Every measure, that party feeling and malice 
could resort to, was taken to render him odious. It is pain- 
ful to recur to any of these measures, but the character of 
the times cannot be understood without doing it. 

Thomas Paine, an Englishman by birth, came to this 
country in 1774, and was here during the war. He was a 
powerful writer for the popular eye. A pamphlet called 
" Common Sense " gave him some celebrity. The legisla- 
ture of Pennsylvania voted him £500 for this production. 
He was secretary to the committee of foreign affairs ; but 
was dismissed for misconduct. In 1787 he went to France, 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 65 

and thence to England, where he wrote " The Rights of 
Man," in answer to Burke's Reflections on the French 
Revolution ; for which he was indicted, but escaped to 
France. He was a member of the convention, which voted 
for the death of the king. He voted for banishment. In 
1793 he wrote " The Age, of Reason," in derision of Chris- 
tianity ; and in the same year, having fallen under the 
displeasure of the rulers in France, he was imprisoned ; 
and so continued to be, till the fall of Robespierre, in 1795. 
He returned to the United States, and died near the city of 
New York, in 1809, at the age of seventy-three. His true 
character may be inferred from his writings. Among the 
pieces of defamation circulated in 1797, was a letter of 
Paine, addressed to General Washington, though not intend- 
ed for his eye, but through the press. It is dated at Paris, 
July 30, 1796. This letter Benjamin Franklin Bache, 
editor of the " Aurora," considered sufficiently valuable to 
be protected by a certificate of copy-right. From this letter 
one may learn what sort of opinions some of our country- 
men, and especially Mr. Jefferson, then considered it proper 
to circulate. In relation to the funding system, Paine says — 
" The Chief of the army became the patron of fraud." 
" Elevated to the chair of the presidency, you assumed the 
" merit of every thing to yourself, and the natural ingratitude 
" of your constitution began to appear. You commenced 
" your presidential career by encouraging, and swallowing, 
" the grossest adulation ; and travelled America, from one 
" end to the other, to put youreslf in the way of receiving 
" it." Speaking of John Adams and John Jay, (pages 11 
and 12,) Paine says, " these are the disguised traitors, who 
" call themselves federalists. John Adams is one of those 
" men who never contemplated the origin of government, or 
" comprehended any thing of the nature of first principles." 
In page 15 : " Mr. Washington is known to have no friend- 
" ships, and to be incapable of forming any — he can serve 
" or desert a cause, or a man, with constitutional indiffer- 
" ence." In page 63 : — " As to you, sir, treacherous in 
" private friendship, (for so you have been to me, and that 
" in the day of danger,)* and a hypocrite in public life, the 
— , • 

* Paine applied to Washington to aid him to get out of Robespierre's 
dungeon ; which was declined on the ground that Paine had made 
himself a French citizen. 

6* 



66 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" world will be puzzled to decide, whether you are an apos- 
" tate, or an impostor ; whether you have abandoned good 
" principles, or whether you ever had any." It is not to be 
supposed that Mr. Jefferson, (who was one of Bache's pa- 
trons, as appears from his recommendation to Mr. Madison, 
to have Bache's paper supported, see vol. iii. p. 387,) was 
ignorant of this national insult offered to Washington by 
Thomas Paine. Yet among the earliest acts of power, after 
Mr. Jefferson arrived at the presidency, was to invite this 
unworthy person to take passage in a national ship to the 
United States. Within a fortnight after Mr. Jefferson had 
taken his oath of office, he wrote to Paine (vol. iii. 459) : — 
" The return of our citizens from the phrenzy into which 
" they had been wrought, partly by ill conduct in France, 
" partly by artifices practised on them, is almost entire, and 
" will, I believe, become quite so. But these details, too 
" long and minute for a letter, will be better developed by 
" Mr. Dawson, the bearer of this, a member of the late Con- 
" gress, to whom I refer you for them. He goes in the 
" Maryland, a sloop of war, which will wait a few days at 
" Havre to receive his letters, to be written on his arrival at 
" Paris. You expressed a wish to get a passage to this 
" country, in a public vessel.* Mr. Dawson is charged with 
" orders to the captain of the Maryland, to receive, and ac- 
" commodate you with a passage back, if you can be ready to 
" depart at such short warning. I am in hopes you will find 
" us returned, generally, to sentiments worthy of former 
" times. In these, it will be your glory steadily to have 
" labored, and with as much effect as any man living. That 
" you may long live to continue your uscfid labors, and to 
" reap their reward in the thankfulness of nations, is my 
*' sincere prayer." 

Among other things, Washington was charged with com- 
mitting murder in the French war, in 1757 ; the circum- 
stance alluded to, justified the accusation no more, than if 
he had been so charged for what he did at the battle of 
Monmouth in the revolutionary war. 

^ That he mi2;ht be protected from British capture and carried to 
England, where he knt;w public punishment awaited him. The con- 
sistent JVm. Cobbett, wlio has lately been employed in wri'.ing- the 
life of Andrew Jackson, caused Paine's bones to be taken up, and 
carried to Enoland. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 67 

The forged letters, which had been circulated during the 
war, (purporting to have been written to family friends by 
Wasliington,) to make him suspected by his countrymen of 
being favorably disposed to the British, were revived, and 
circulated. 

The National Gazette, before mentioned as having been 
edited by Freneau, a clerk in Mr. Jefferson's ollice, but more 
especially the Aurora, edited by Bache, daily came forth 
teeming with abuse and invective. 

The French minister seems to have thought it his official 
duty to write a letter to the Secretary of State, under date of 
the 27th October, 1790, containing the most explicit charges 
of breach of neutrality ; and adds, at the close — "that he 
" will cause this note to be printed, in order to make pub- 
" licly known the motives which, at the present juncture, 
" influenced the French Republic." This note was accord- 
ingly printed in a Philadelphia paper, and came forth as 
soon as the Secretary could have read the original. 



LETTER XX. 

March 25, 18-33. 

On the 15th of November, 1796, the French minister 
wrote another letter, which, though in diplomatic form, and 
addressed to the Secretary, he caused to be published at the 
same time, that it might have the effect intended on the 
public mind ; and which might, also, be an impressive 
monition to the successor of the President. Mr. Adet 
calls the wise measure of the administration in 1793 " the 
insidious proclamation " (of neutrality). This letter of the 
loth of November is so descriptive of the fraternization 
of Republican France, of which Europe was destined to 
feel the full effect, while the Republic continued, and while 
the Emperor reigned, that some extracts from it may be 
acceptable : " The undersigned minister plenipotentiary, 
" moreover declares, that the Executive Directory regards the 
" treaty of commerce, concluded with Great Britain, as a 
" violation of the treaty made with France in 1778, and 
" equivalent to a treaty of alliance with Great Britain ; and 



b 



68 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" that, justly offended, at the conduct which the American 
" government has hehi in this case, they have given him 
" orders to suspend, from this moment, his ministerial func- 
" tions with the Federal Government." 

" What joy did not the American flag inspire when it 
" waved unfurled in the French Senate. Tender tears 
" trickled from each eye ; every one looked at it with amaze- 
" ment. There, said they, is the symbol of the independ- 
" ence of our American brethren ! Behold there, the pledge 
" of their liberty. May victory always attend it. May it 
" lead to glory none but a free and happy people ! These 
" words, which escaped from a thousand mouths, were the 
" expression of the sentiments of the whole nation. Was 
" not an American to each Frenchman, another French- 
" man 1 He was more — he was a friend ; and that sacred 
" name, amidst civil dissensions, was equally respected by 
" all. 

" Alas ! time has not yet demolished the fortifications 
" with which the English roughened this country ; nor 
" those the Americans raised for their defence ; their half 
" rounded summits still appear in every quarter, amidst 
" plains, on the tops of mountains. The traveller need not 
" search for the ditch, which served to encompass them ; 
" it is still open under his feet. Scattered ruins of houses 
" laid waste, which the fire had partly respected, in order 
" to leave monuments of British fury, are still to be found. 
" Men still exist, who can say, here a ferocious English- 
" man slaughtered my father; there my wife tore her bleed- 
" ing daughter from the hands of an unbridled English- 
" man. Alas ! the soldiers who fell under the sword of 
" the Britons, are not yet reduced to dust : the laborer, in 
" turning up his field, still draws from the bosom of the 
"earth their whitened bones ; while the ploughman, with 
" tears and gratitude, still recollects that his fields, now 
" covered with rich harvests, have been moistened with 
" French Mood, while every thing around the inhabitants of 
" this country animates them to speak of the tyranny of 
" Great Britain and of the generosity of Frenchmen ; when 
" England has declared a war of death to that nation, to 
" avenge herself for its having cemented, with its blood, 
" the independence of the United States. It was at th-s 
" moment, their government made a treaty of amity with 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. G9 

" their ancient tyrant, the implacable enemy of their 
" ancient ally. O ! Americans, covered with noble scars ! 
" O ! you who have so often flown to death and to victory, 
" with French soldiers ! You, who know those generous 
" sentiments which distinguished the true warrior : whose 
" hearts have always vibrated with those of your compan- 
" ions in arms ! Consult them to-day to know what they 
" experience ; recollect at the same time, that if magnani- 
" mous souls, with liveliness, resent an affront, they also 
" know how to forget one. Let your government return to 
" itself, and you will still find in Frenchmen faithful friends, 
" and generous allies. 

" Done at Philadelphia, the 25th Brumaire, 5th year of 
" the French Republic, one and indivisible (15th Novem- 
" ber, 1796, O. S.) P. A. Adet." 

This eloquent appeal, appearing as it did, and when it 
did, was undoubtedly intended as a French invitation to 
American citizens, to elect Thomas Jefferson, President. 
It was nearly successful. But complete success, required 
the lapse of four years more. To promote the object in 
view, another measure was adopted, namely, the publication 
of the queries which Washington had proposed to his 
cabinet, on the eve of issuing his proclamation of neutral- 
ity, in 1793 ; and to which written answers were required. 
It seems to have been his practice to obtain the separate 
and deliberate opinions of his ministers, and then to form 
his own. As the queries were entirely confidential, and as 
the publication of them could not have been made by Ham- 
ilton, or Knox, they must have been made by, or with the 
assent of Jefferson, or Randolph. Jefferson thought proper 
to write to Washington to exculpate himself Washington, 
in answering him, uses, among others, these words : " If I 
" had entertained any suspicion before, that the queries 
" which have been published in JBache's paper proceeded 
" from you, the assurances you have given of the contrary, 
" would have removed them, . . But the truth is, I har- 
" bored none. I am at no loss to conjecture from what 
" source they flowed, through what channel they were con- 
" veyed, nor for what purpose they, and similar publica- 
" tions, appear. 

" As you have mentioned the subject yourself, it would 



I 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 

' 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 a dan- 
■ gerous influence, and that, if I would listen more to some 
' other opinions, all would be well. My answer invariably 
' has been, that I had never discovered any thing in the 
' conduct of Mr. Jefferson, to raise suspicions in my mind 
' of his sincerity ; that if he would retrace my public con- 
duct 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 de- 
' cided against, as in favor of the person evidently alluded 
' to ; and moreover, that I was no believer in the infalli- 
' bility of the politics, or measures of any man living. 
' In short, that I was no parti/ man myself, and that the 
' first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to recon- 
' cile 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 bounds of 
' probability, . . hardly within those of possibility, — that 
' while I was using my utmost exertions to establish a 
' national character of our own, independent, as far as our 
' obligations and justice would permit, of every nation on 
' the earth ; and wished, by steering a steady course, to 
' preserve this country from the horrors of 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 misrepre- 
' sentations 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 pick- 
' pocket. 

" But enough of this .... I have already gone further 
*' in the expression of my feelings than I intended." 

Let it not be forgotten, that though Washington seems. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 71 

to some extent, to exculpate Mr. Jefferson, yet, that the base 
and wicked slanders and crhninations of which he com- 
plains, appeared in the newspaper edited by Mr. Jefferson's 
clerk, Freneau, and in that edited by Bache. It will be 
seen, hereafter, that on one occasion, Washington com- 
plained to Mr. Jefferson of the publications, which ap- 
peared in Freneau's paper, and also in what manner Mr. 
Jefferson was pleased to treat that complaint. 



I 



LETTER XXI. 

March 30, 1833. 

On the 7th of December, 1796, Washington met Con- 
gress for the last time, and commended to their attention 
many highly important subjects, some of which have been 
attended to, and others neglected. He adverted, modestly, 
to the course which he had pursued in conducting the 
government, but did not condescend to notice the slanders 
which had been poured out against him. He had published 
his memorable Farewell Address, in the month of Septem- 
ber, 1796. 

It is characteristic of Mr. Jefferson, that he makes an 
attempt to rob Washington, in some degree, of the author- 
ship of this precious legacy ; and to transfer it to his friend 
Mr. Madison. There is not the slightest evidence any 
where, that Washington had any such regard, or respect 
for Mr. Madison, politically or individually, as to lead to 
the belief that this gentleman would have been the selected 
object of confidence, on this delicate and serious occasion.' 
Mr. Jefferson says, — ■ (in a letter to Judge Johnson, of 
South Carolina, vol. iv. p. 370,) " With respect to his 
" farewell address, to the authorship of which, it seems, 
" there are conflicting claims, I can state to you some 
'^ facts. He had declined a re-election, at the end of his 
" first term, and so far determined, that he had requested 
" Mr. Madison to prepare for him something valedictory, to 
" be addressed to his constituents on his retirement." 
" When at the end of his second term, when his valedictory 
" came out, Mr. Madison recognised in it several passages 



72 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" of his (Jrnifuhf ; several others, we were both satisfied, 
" were from the pen of Hamilton ; and others from that of 
" the President himself 'Jlicse he, probably, put into the 
" hands of Hamilton to form into a whole ; and hence it 
" may all appear in Hamilton's hand-writing, as if it were 
" all his composition." That is, Hamilton took Madison's 
manuscript, and adopted it as his, but to appear as Wash- 
ington's ! The truth, in this matter, is now known from 
the pen of John J(ty. 

Until the close of his administration, Washington had 
never pulilicly noticed the " forged letters ; " he then 
thought it proper to address to the Secretary of State, to 
be filed hi his oilice, a solemn declaration that they were 
forced. 

On the 2'2d of February, 1797, the citizens of Philadel- 
phia asked Washington's presence at a ball, intended as a 
mark of their respect. At that time, there was a circus, 
and an hotel, (known as O'Ellers',) on the south side of 
Chestnut Street, between Fifth and Sixth Streets. The 
circus was floored over for dancing, and otherwise suitably 
prepared ; and a settee, with a canopy over it, arranged in 
an elevated position for Mr. and Mrs Washington. He 
did not confine himself to this, but moved about the circus, 
conversing freely with the company, consisting of citizens, 
distinguished members of Congress, all foreign ministers, 
and invited strangers. An opening was made through the 
wall of the hotel, from the circus, and the company passed 
through this into the hotel to sup.* On the fourth of 
March (1797) he was present when John Adams took the 
oath of office ; and he appeared to be sincerely glad, in the 
manner of his congratulations to tlie new President, that 
the care and responsibility of that station, were no longer 
his own. In two or three days he withdrew from Philadel- 
phia to Mount Vernon, to leave it no more for the residue 
of his life.t He was sixty-five years of age the 22d of the 
preceding February. 

The following are recollections of Washington, derived 
from repeated opportunities of seeing him during the three 



* This hotel was shortly after destroyed by tire ; and the circus lias 
long since given place to other ImiUlings. 

■f He appeared once as a grand juror and served as foreman. 



I 



ON rUIlLIC CHARACTERS. 73 

last years of his public life. He was over six feet in stature ; 
of strong, bony, muscular frame, without fulness of cover- 
ing, well formed and straight. He was a man of most ex- 
traordinary physical strength. In his own house his action 
was calm, deliberate, and digniried, without pretension to 
gracefulness, or peculiar maimer, ■ but merely natural, and 
such as one would think it should be in such a man. When 
walking in the street, his movement had not the soldierly 
air which might be expected. His habitual motions had 
been formed long before he took command of the American 
armies, in the wars of the interior, and in the surveying of 
wilderness lands, employments in which grace and elegance 
were not likely to be acquired. At the age of sixty-five, 
time had done nothing towards bending him out of his 
natural erectness. His deportment was invariably grave ; 
it was sobriety that stopped short of sadness. His presence 
inspired a veneration, and a feeling of awe, rarely experi- 
enced in the presence of any man. His mode of speaking 
was slow and deliberate, not as though he was in search of 
fine words, but that he might utter those only adapted to his 
purpose. It was the usage for all persons, in good society, 
to attend Mrs. Washington's levee every Friday evening. 
He was always present. The young ladies used to throng 
around him, and engage him in conversation. There were 
some of the well remembered bclUf of that day who imagined 
themselves to be fiivorites with him. As these were the 
only opportunities which they had of conversing with him, 
they were disposed to use them. One would think, that a 
gentleman and a gallant soldier, if he could ever laugh, or 
dress his countenance in smiles, would do so when sur- 
rounded by young and admiring beauties. But this was 
never so ; the countenance 'of Washington never softened ; 
nor changed its habitual gravity. One who had lived always 
in his family, said, that his manner in public life, and in the 
seclusion of most retired life, was always the same. Being 
asked whether Washington could laugh ; this person said, 
that this was a rare occurrence, but that one instance was 
remembered when he laughed most heartily at her narration 
of an incident in which she was a jiarty concerned ; and in 
which he applauded her agency. The late General Cobb, 
who was long a member of his family during the war, (and 
who enjoyed a laugh as nuich as any man could,) said, that 
7 



74 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

he never saw Washington laugh, excepting when Dr. Tho- 
mas of Massachusetts came to dine at head-quarters. This 
gentleman had a fund of ludicrous anecdotes, and a manner 
of telling them, which relaxed even the gravity of the com- 
mander in chief. 

General Cobb also said, that the forms of proceeding at 
head-quarters were exact and precise ; orderly and punctual. 
At the appointed moment, Washington appeared at the 
breakfast table. He expected to find all the members of his 
family, (Cobb, Hamilton, Humphreys, were among them,) 
awaiting him. He came dressed for the day, and brought 
with him the letters and despatches of the preceding day, 
with short memoranda of tlie answers to be made : also the 
substance of orders to be issued. When breakfast was over, 
these papers were distributed among his aids, to be put into 
form. Soon after, he mounted his horse to visit the troops, 
and expected to find, on his return before noon, all the papers 
prepared for his inspection and signature. There was no 
familiarity in his presence ; it was all sobriety and business. 
His mode of life was abstemious and temperate. He had a 
decided preference for certain sorts of food, probably from 
early associations. Throughout the war, as it was under- 
stood in his military family, he gave a part of every day to 
private prayer and devotion. 

While he lived in Philadelphia, as President, he rose at 
four in the morning ; and the general rule of his house was 
that the fires should be covered, and the lights extinguished 
at a certain hour ; whether this was nine or ten, is not recol- 
lected. 

In the early part of his administration, great complaints 
were made by the opposition, of the aristocratic and royal 
demeanor of the President. Mr. Jefferson makes some 
commentaries on this subject, which do no credit to his head 
or his heart. These are too little to be transcribed from the 
works of this " great and good 7nan." (See vol. iv. p, 487.) 
Dr. Stuart, of Virginia, wrote to him of the dissatisfaction 
which prevailed on this subject in Virginia. In the 5th vol. 
of Marshall, page 104, will be found an extract of Washing- 
ton's vindication of his conduct ; and a most satisfactory 
one, and which shows the proper character of Mr. Jefferson's 
" Anas." These complaints related, in particular, to the 
manner of receiving such visiters as came from respect, or 



ON PUBLIC CHAUACTERS. 75 

from curiosity, of which there were multitudes. The purpose 
of Washington was, that such visiters should accomplish tiieir 
objects, without a sacrifice of time, which he considered in- 
dispensable to the performance of his public duties. 

He devoted one hour every other Tuesday, from three to 
four, to these visits. He understood himself to be visited as 
the President of the United States, and not on his own 
account. He was not to be seen by any body and every 
body ; but required that every one who came should be in- 
troduced by his secretary, or by some gentleman, whom he 
knew himself. He lived on the south side of Market 
Street, just below Sixth.* The place of reception was the 
dining room in the rear, twenty-five or thirty feet in length, 
including the bow projecting into the garden. Mrs. Wash- 
ington received her visiters in the two rooms on the second 
floor, from front to rear. 

At three o'clock, or at any time within a quarter of an 
hour afterwards, the visiter was conducted to this dining 
room, from which all seats had been removed for the time. 
On entering he saw the tall manly figure of Washington 
clad in black velvet ; his hair in full dress, powdered and 
gathered behind in a large silk bag ; yellow gloves on his 
hands ; holding a cocked hat with a cockade in it, and the 
edges adorned with a black feather about an inch deep. 
He wore knee and shoe buckles ; and a long sword, with a 
finely wrought and polished steel hilt, which appeared at the 
left hip ; the coat worn over the sword, so that the hilt, and 
the part below the folds of the coat behind, were in view. 
,The scabbard was white polished leather. 

He stood always in front of the fire-place, with his face 
towards the door of entrance. The visiter was conducted 
to him, and he required to have the name so distinctly pro- 
nounced, that he could hear it. He had the very uncom- 
mon faculty of associating a man's name, and personal 
appearance, so durably in his memory, as to be able to call 
any one by name, who made him a second visit. He re- 
ceived his visiter with a dignified bow, while his hands were 
so disposed of as to indicate that the salutation was not to 
be accompanied with shaking hands. This ceremony never 
occurred in these visits, even with his most near friends, 
that no distinction might be made. 

* This was the house of Robert Morris before Washington occupied it. 



76 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

As visiters came in, they formed a circle around the 
room. At a quarter past three, the door was closed, and 
the circle was formed for that day. He then began on the 
right, and spoke to each visiter, calling him by name, and 
exchanging a fow words with him. When he had com- 
pleted his circuit, he resumed his first position, and the 
visiters approached him, in succession, bowed and retired. 
By four o'clock this ceremony was over. 

On the evenings when Mrs. Washington received visiters, 
he did not consider himself' as visited. He was then as a 
private gentleman, dressed usually in some colored coat and 
waistcoat, (the only one recollected was brown, with bright 
buttons,) and black, on his lower limbs. He had then 
neither hat nor sword ; he moved about among the company, 
conversing with one and another. He had once a fortnight 
an official dinner, and select companies on other days. He 
sat (it is said) at the side, in a central position, Mrs. Wash- 
ington opposite ; the two ends were occupied by members of 
his family, or by personal friends. 



LETTER XXII, 



April 2, 183.3. 



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 consider, calmly and 
dispassionately, the worth of that conducted by himself. It 
may be, that the efforts made in Washington's lifetime, by 
Paine, Bache, and Freneau, (to say nothing of any which 
Mr. Jefferson may have made, paid for, or approved of.) to 
deprive him of the esteem of his countrymen, have still some 
effect on the public mind. But the day will come when 
AVashington and Jefferson will both be remembered, by all 
who seek correct information, os they shoidd he. 

Washington brought into office the reputation of a suc- 
cessful military chief. Not that which depends on personal 
courage ; nor that which arises from the able use of the best 
means for conducting warfare ; but the reputation of having 



ON PUJILIC CHARACTERS. 77 

used means which we now look back upon with astonish- 
ment, as having been capable of effecting the independence 
of the country. In all his agency, then, and ever after, 
wisdom, firmness, perseverance, great ability, unimpeach- 
able integrity, are admitted to be his attributes. Infamous 
slanders have been forgotten in the lapse of time ; and 
some of those who paid for them, and circulated them, find 
their own interests promoted, in having them forgotten. 

Washington was not a sitccessor. He had no path before 
him, marked out by time, and experience. He had a nation 
to rule, who were to receive rules for the first time, under a 
voluntary government, obtained with great exertion, and 
against the will of an able, and irreconcilable minority. 
There was no reverence for ancient usages, no affection for 
a system, which its subjects had been born under, and had 
grown up with. No cherished recollections of evils averted, 
and benefits secured, under a faithful exercise of power. 
There were the abstract rules of a constitution ; no laws, no 
officers, no application of its force, to the exigencies of the 
country. There were all the complicated and embarrassing 
concerns of the late war ; craving creditors to the amount 
of many millions ; a pervading sense of gratitude to France ; 
the memory of bitter sufferings under the cruel exercise of 
British warfare, from one end of the continent to the other ; 
and most especially in the south. 

The memory of suffering in the south, particularly in 
South Carolina, was deep and eradicable. War there, was 
bereft of all the magnanimity and forbearance, which 
modern usages, under Christian influence, have introduced 
to mitigate its horrors. It was vindictive, unsparing, merci- 
less civil war. It was worse yet ; it was a wanton exercise 
of force, which was infamous, even when attempted to be 
palliated by calling it the lawful exercise of power against 
rebels. A correspondent feeling and action, followed on the 
part of the Americans. Besides the evils of such war, the 
inhabitants of the country were divided into whig and tory 
parties, and carried all the bitterness of the times into these 
distinctions. Among the most disgraceful and mournful 
tragedies ever acted among men, was the execution of the 
gallant and honorable Colonel Isaac Hayne on the 4th of 
August, 1781, at Charleston. The names of the two British 
officers who had the heart to order this, shall not be mention- 



78 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

ed. They resisted such an appeal, as ought to have softened 
the hardest substance that can be called a human heart. 
The second Gothic king that wore a Roman crown, died of 
remorse, that he had put a fellow man to death, under cir- 
cumstances more excusable than those which carried Colonel 
Hayne to a place of execution. No time, no distance should 
ever permit the oblivion of such scenes ; that they may 
serve to moderate the exercise of power, and warn the 
soldier that future generations will judge of him with im- 
partial justice. Such feelings towards the British, were, 
from like causes, prevalent in Virginia. The elements of 
opposition, needed only some combining and exciting cause, 
to be felt in all their force. 

To the high responsibility of giving motion and effect to 
the new system, among all these discordant elements, it was 
the lot of Washington to be called. Without going minutely 
into measures, let us glance at the prominent ones, and 
judge, by the light of experience, whether he, and his politi- 
cal associates, were right or wrong. 

W^as 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 ? Was the manner of this provision 
right or wrong? If wrong, it must have been so from not 
paying the holders of securities, which had changed hands 
innumerable times, at the rate of purchase. How could 
this be ascertained ; and was every bargain made, in the 
United States, to be traced through all its steps to the origi- 
nal holder 1 If some men thought better of eventual solven- 
cy of the nation than others did, and chose to take the risk, 
was this a reason why they should not be paid 1 If one man 
could purchase an article, of uncertain value, at a rate 
which the owner was disposed to take, what law of justice, 
or honor, forbade the purchase ? It is true that the poor 
soldier and the war-worn officer, had parted, in their poverty 
and necessity, with the paper payment for their services, for 
an almost nominal consideration. But what was this to the 
creditor? To these soldiers and officers, there was still a 
national debt in gratitude and justice. It has been poorly 
paid to survivors, after most of the whole number had found 
their graves. Gratitude is a fruitless claim, in most cases, 
when presented to the conscience of a nation. Not to have 
done what was done, would have been injustice, for which 
there could have been no palliation. 



ON PUI3LIC CHARACTERS. 79 

The manner of this provision — was this right or wrong 1 
The amount of the revolutionary debt, estimated at specie 
vahie, in 1790, was ($135,190,703) more than one hundred 
and thirty-five millions of dollars. It was to be licjuidated 
and funded, and provision made for interest and principal. 
To this end, the commercial regulations, now in force, com- 
prising the whole system of shipping interests, and insensi- 
ble taxation by duties on importation, were established. 
These regulations have been adhered to, in all the hostility 
manifested in later times, to the Washington administration. 
But it was not for the occasion of the day, that they were 
established ; it was to make a sure foundation (united with 
other subjects) for national credit and security in all future 
times. When the government has been well conducted, 
and has deserved public confidence, these regulations have 
answered the intended purpose. From this system of things 
arises now, the vital strength of the national government ; a 
strength which may be safely relied on in every emergency 
when the national rulers have justly the confidence of the 
country. We hear, at this day, proud boastings of the 
extinction of the national debt of the revolution, and of the 
one hundred millions of debt accumulated in the late war. 
By whose wisdom and foresight was it, that the extinction 
of the debt has been effected 1 By those who founded the 
financial system, or those who, since that time, have applied 
it, well or ill, as the case may be ? 

Was Washington's administration right or wrong, towards 
France and England, during their vindictive and exter- 
minating war 1 No man ever had a more delicate and diffi- 
cult task to perform than in relation to these belligerents. 
To both of them, this country, situated at the distance of 
three thousand miles from the cabinets of each, and near 
colonies of both, was a subject of unceasing jealousy. Each 
desired to prevent this country from becoming adversely a 
party in the war ; and France was resolutely determined, by 
every art of corruption, and intrigue, and by open menace, 
that it should become a party, in alliance with her. What 
could this country gain, and how much was it sure to lose, 
by engaging in the war, on either side ! Surely the true 
policy of the country was strict luutrality. To preserve 
this, the most forbearing and conciliatory measures were 
adopted towards each ; ministers were sent, and instructions 



80 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

given to show, that the United States were and meant to be 
neutral. 

When the conduct of Great Britain became intolerable in 
the capture of American ships, was it best to go to war, and 
take the chances of French fraternity, or to send a special 
messenger to make explanations, and demand reparation ? 
The good sense of the country came to the relief of the 
administration in this measure ; and the country was saved 
from the calamities which threatened it, by the ratification 
of Mr. Jay's treaty, and by popular approval. 

To the last hour of his administration, Washington per- 
severed in his neutralitj ; and was able to countervail the 
popular clamor in favor of France. We can look back 
calmly, on the policy of that peculiar country ; we now 
know what the fate of all countries was that submitted to 
French alliance, whether republican or imperial ; and we 
can plainly see what would have been the fate of this 
country, if Washington had yielded to the hollow assurances 
and open menaces of Genet, Fauchet, and Adet, sustained 
as they were, by an unfaithful or deluded portion of our 
country, and sometimes amounting to a popular majority. 

In the discretionary exercise of executive power, the 
Washington administration was wise and tolerant. 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 perilous efforts helped to establish. He did not, like 
some of his successors, profess to ask. Is he honest, is he 
capable, is he faithful to the constitution. He appointed 
men that were so. He displaced no man for the expression 
of his opinions, even in the feverish excitement of French 
delusion. 

With regard to all other foreign governments ; the judi- 
ciary ; 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, how transcendently above all 
praise that man can bestow ; and yet how utterly have his 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 81 

views, and his example been disregarded within these 
thirty years ! 

As successive events, and new agents, arise in our na- 
tional progress, and means of comparison are lost in the 
lapse of time, we are in great danger, by taking those 
which are most recent, of descending by steps, to the end 
of republican freedom. The state of our country now, 
freed as it is from debt, disentangled as it is from European 
alliances, fearless as it is from Indian aggressions, presents 
an humiliating contrast with its condition at the close of the 
last century. On the disheartening difficulties of that day, 
time has rolled its tide. Not one in a thousand of those 
who were then minors, or born since, has given a serious 
thought to them, with a view to know, as to all that is now 
doing, what is right or wrong. These real difficulties are 
gone ; and what have succeeded to them ? Those of do- 
mestic creation ; the jealousies and enmities fomented 
among the members of the same family ; the cravings for 
power and distinction ; the reign of selfishness, and of pas- 
sion. By these the strength of the government is to be 
tried, as its founders predicted ; and not by the combined 
strength of all Europe, while we are united among our- 
selves. 



LETTER XXIII. 

April 5, 1833. 

It is time to relieve this narration of political events by 
some description of public men, at the close of the last cen- 
tury. It must be remembered, that there are friends and 
descendants of these men, now living, whose feelings are to 
be respected ; and also, that the remarks to be made are 
those of one individual who narrates from memory, and his 
own notice of men and things, and who may not have seen 
and observed, as others did. The inducement to make any 
remarks of this nature, is, that the time is at hand, when 
all power to speak of men who were busy at the close of 
the last century, from personal knowledge, will cease. 
Who and what they were, who were Washington's military 



82 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

and political associates, friends or foes, must be interesting 
— especially as they lived when European governments 
were shaken to the centre by the force of revolution, suffi- 
ciently powerful to be felt and dreaded, in this far western 
world ; and also, that they lived and acted at a time, when 
fear of, or devotion to, revolutionary notions, brought all 
minds, strong or feeble, into incessant action. Reason and 
good sense were then, as now, impotent agents, against 
that popular excitement which makes law for itself 

Mr. Jefferson mentions in his writings, " the Essex Junto" 
with much reproach. What persons he meant by this party 
distinction, he did not know himself. It seems to have 
been his practice to throw out defamatory remarks, to fix 
as they might. It is well remembered, that there were 
intelligent men in the county of Essex, w ho were steadfast 
friends of the Washington administration, and who sup- 
ported that of Mr. Adams, though without unqualified 
approbation. These men had intimate friends and asso- 
ciates in Boston, who thought as they did. They were, 
unitedly, sincere and uncompromising opponents of Jeffer- 
sonism, in all its forms. Their political merits and de- 
merits may depend on this. If the administrations of 
Washington and Adams were right, they were right. If 
devotion to France, merely because it was France, and 
hatred of England, merely because it was England, re- 
gardless of duty or interest, as to their own country, was 
wrong, they were right, as subsequent events most clearly 
proved. They were men, and like other men, might feel 
and express indignation at the abuse and perversion of 
power to mere party purposes ; and might have desired to- 
see power properly restrained, and rightly applied; and 
may have expressed more decidedly, than some others did, 
their own opinions. But Mr. Jefferson was the real cause 
of these opinions. If he was a wise and honest states- 
man, and deserved the confidence and gratitude of his 
countrymen, the Essex Junto were wrong. If he was prac- 
tically the enemy of the national constitution, and merely 
the chief of a party, and not the President of the United 
States, they were right. 

Among the distinguished men, at the close of the last 
century, was Benjamin Lincoln ; a revolutionary officer. 
Secretary at War, the General in the Massachusetts insur- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 83 

rection, and first Collector of the port of Boston. In 1794, 
he was about sixty years of age. He had received only 
an inferior education, but had done much to compensate 
for its defects. Before the war, he had been town officer, 
member of the legislature, and militia colonel. He was 
about five feet nine inches in stature, and of so uncom- 
monly broad person, as to seem to be of less stature than 
he was. His gray hair was combed back from his forehead, 
unpowdered, and gathered in a long queue. His face was 
round and full, his eyes blue, and his complexion light. 
He was usually dj-essed in a blue coat, and light under 
clothes, and wore a cocked hat. He always appeared in 
boots, in consequence of the deformity of his left leer, oc- 
casioned by a wound received at the capture of Burgoyne. 
His speech was with apparent difficulty, as though he 
were too full. The expression of his countenance was 
exceedingly kind and amiable. His manner was very 
gracious ; like those of all tiie high officers of the revolu- 
tion, his deportment was dignified and courteous. He 
wrote essays on several subjects, commercial, agricultural, 
and philosophical, some of which were published. He 
employed some one to read these essays, and assio-ned for 
a reason, that being entirely ignorant of the grammatical 
construction of language, he could judge only by the sound, 
of its correctness. 

General Lincoln was one of the few persons who are 
afflicted with somnolency. This was not occasioned by 
age, but was constitutional. In the midst of conversation, 
at table, and when driving himself in a chaise, he would 
fall into a sound sleep. While he commanded the troops 
against the Massachusetts insurgents, he dictated despatches 
and slept between the sentences. His sleep did not appear 
to disturb his perception of circumstances that were passing 
around him. He considered this an infirmity, and his 
friends never ventured to speak to him of it. He was a 
man of exemplary morals, and of sincere piety, carryino- 
fully into practical life, the ethics of the religion which he 
professed. He enjoyed the high respect and confidence of 
Washington, and the affectionate regard of his fellow officers. 
He performed his various trusts with ability, and incor- 
ruptible integrity. He was a member of the American 
Academy, and President of the Cincinnati, 



84 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

He died in 1810, at an advanced age. He was one of 
the very few whom Mr. Jefferson did not turn out of office. 
But so many persons were placed in the collectorship, of 
the new order of public officers, that it was disagreeable to 
him to remain in office. From this cause, as well as in- 
creasing years, he retired. 



LETTER XXIV. 

April 10, 1833. 

Henry Knox was a bookseller, and bookbinder, at Bos- 
ton, when the war began, at which time he was about twenty- 
five years old. He had been captain of a grenadier com- 
pany ; and was a volunteer at Bunker Hill battle. He 
met Washington at Cambridge, in 177G ; and was immedi- 
ately made chief of artillery, in which relation he contin- 
ued during the war, and always near head-quarters. He 
served throughout the war, and left the service with the 
rank of Major General. When he resigned the office of Sec- 
retary, at the close of 1794, he removed to Boston, and for 
some years afterwards resided there. He was a large, full 
man, above middle stature ; his lower limbs inclined a very 
little outward, as though they had taken a form from the 
long continued use of the saddle. His hair was short in front, 
standing up and powdered, and queued. His forehead was 
low, his face large and full below ; his eyes rather small, 
gray and brilliant. The expression of his face altogether, 
was a very fine one. 

When moving along the street, he had an air of grandeur, 
and self-complacency, but it wounded no man's self-love. 
He carried a large cane, not to aid his steps, but usually 
under his arm ; and sometimes, when he happened to stop 
and engage in conversation with his accustomed ardor, his 
cane was used to flourish with, in aid of his eloquence. He 
was usually dressed in black. In the summer he common- 
ly carried his light silk hat in his hand, when walking in 
the shade. His left hand had been mutilated, and a part 
of it was gone. He wore a black silk handkerchief wrapt 
around it, from which the thumb and forefinger appeared. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTEUS. 85 

When engaged in conversation he used to unwind and re- 
place this handkerchief, but not so as to show his disfigured 
hand. 

When thinking, he looked like one of his own heavy 
pieces, which would surely do execution when discharged ; 
when speaking, his face had a noble expression, and was 
capable of displaying the most benignant feeling. This 
was the true character of his heart. His voice was strono-, 
and no one could hear it without feeling that it had been 
accustomed to command. The mind of Knox was power- 
ful, rapid, and decisive ; and he could employ it continu- 
ously, and effectively. His natural propensity was highly 
social, and no man better enjoyed a hearty laugh. He said 
that he had, through life, left his bed at the dawn, and had 
been always a cheerful, happy man. 

He had a brilliant imagination, and not less brilliant modes 
of expression. His conceptions of the power and glory of 
the Creator of the universe, were of an exalted character. 
That he might give scope to this sentiment, he chose the 
region of Blue Hill, that he might there witness the great 
solar eclipse of June the 16th, 1806. His expressions, at 
the decline of the light, in the moment of almost total dark- 
ness, and on the effulgence of the returning beams of the 
sun, were worthy of the occasion, and of his own glorious 
mind. The immortality of the soul was not with him a 
matter of induction, but a sentiment, or fact, no more to be 
questioned, than his own earthly existence. 

His noble hospitality, and exuberant generosity, and too 
confident a calculation on the productiveness of sales of 
extensive tracts of land in Maine, led him into some em- 
barrassments, towards the close of his life. His life ended 
at the splendid mansion which he erected at Thomaston, in 
Maine, in the year 1806, from an unfortunate accident,* in 
the 56th year of his age. 

When President Adams concluded to form an army in 
1798, Washington accepted the chief command with the 
right of naming his chiefs. He named Hamilton Inspector 
General, and first in command under him, Charles Cotes- 
worth Pinckney, second, and Knox, third. Knox was ex- 



* He swallowed a piece of chicken bone, which produced a fatal 
mortiiication. 

8 



86 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

ceedingly hurt at this, as he was Hamihon's senior, in years, 
and rank. He hesitated, for some time, whether to accept. 
But his own manly feelings, and the nature of the call on 
him, suppressed the natural sensibility of a soldier, and he 
accepted. 

The manners of the revolutionary officers among them- 
selves (there were several in Boston at the time now spoken 
of) were exceedingly affectionate, and familiar. They spoke 
to each other by their Christian names, or surnames only ; 
but yet there was a courtesy and dignity which always made 
it the intercourse of gentlemen. All of them were in the 
habit of using expressions, (no doubt acquired in the army,) 
which hardly seemed to be profaneness in them, though it 
would now be such, if used by any one. They were in 
many respects a noble set of men. It is to be hoped, that 
the race is not extinct. Perhaps the occasion made them 
what they were ; for there seems to be few such men in 
these days. 

It was of this same Henry Knox, that Thomas Jefferson 
has published to his countrymen, and for the benefit of pos- 
terity, as follows : (vol. iv. page 484 :) " Knox subscribed at 
" once to Hamilton's opinion, that we ought to declare the 
" treaty void, (French treaty of 1778,) acknowledging, at 
" the same time, like a fool as he is, that he knew nothing 
" about it." " There having been an intimation by Randolph, 
" that in so great a question he should choose to give a writ- 
" ten opinion, and this being approved by the President, I 
" gave in mine April the 28th. Hamilton gave in his. I 
" believe Knox's was never thought worth offering, or ask- 
" ing for." (In the same vol. page 491,) " Knox, in a 
" FOOLISH, incoherent sort of a speech, introduced the pas- 
" quinade, lately printed, called the funeral of George 

"W n, and James W n, " (Judge Wilson, of the 

Supreme Court of the United States, one of the framers of 
the constitution,) " King and Judge, &c. where the Presi- 
" dent was placed on a guillotine. The President was much 
" inflamed ; got into one of those passions when he cannot 
" command himself; defied any man on earth to produce 
" one single act of his, since he had been in the government, 
" which was not done on the purest motives." In this page 
Mr. Jefferson records Washington as using an oath ; " that 
" by God, he had rather be in his grave than in his present 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 87 

" situation." Thus, Mr. Jefferson is the American, who 
has taken pains to record for the public eye, (true or false,) 
that Washington was guilty of profaueness ! 

" Some officers of the army," (vol. iv. page 444,) " as it has 
" always been said, and believed, (and Steuben and Knox 
" have ever been named as the leading agents,) trained to 
" monarchy by military habits, are understood to have pro- 
" posed to General Washington, to decide this great question 
" by the army, before its disbandment, and to assume, him- 
" self, the crown, on the assurance of their support." It is 
well known, that anonymous letters were circulated in 
camp, to the above effect ; but this is the only case in which 
the names of Knox and Steuben are so connected there- 
with. On the contrary, two men (who afterwards figured 
eminently, in the ranks of democracy) have ever been 
" named, " truly or otherwise, as the authors of these let- 
ters. As to Knox, this is certain, that when the officers 
were assembled, to consider these letters, he was Chairman 
of the Committee, which prepared the report of indignant 
disapprobation of them. 

Mr. Jefferson may have been of the number of those 
who believed with Rochefoucauld, a French philosopher, 
and maxim-writer, that there is something in the misfor- 
tunes of our best friends which does not displease us. It is 
quite certain that the misfortunes of Mr. Jefferson's political 
adversaries gave him no pain. In a letter to Mr. Madison, 
(January 3, 1799, vol. iii. page 406,) he says, " General 
" Knox has become bankrupt for four hundred thousand dol- 
" lars, and has resigned his military commission. He took in 
" General Lincoln for one hundred and fifty thousand dol- 
" lars, which breaks him. Colonel Jackson also sunk with 
" him." The manner of this annunciation may be some 
indication of the sort of heart, which Mr. Jefferson had. It 
is to be hoped, that he did some injustice to that of Mr. 
Madison, in so addressing him. It was undoubtedly true, 
that General Knox, from causes before stated, was a debtor, 
and embarrassed ; and, in some degree, from like causes, 
with those which occasioned Mr. Jefferson's own embar- 
rassments ; (a circumstance in his life which gave no pleas- 
ure to his political adversaries ;) but it was never known, 
in this part of the country, that General Lincoln was 
broken, nor that Colonel Jackson had sunk. Both of them 



0» FAMILIAR LETTERS 

befriended Knox, and the fortunes of both may have been 
in some degree impaired. But both ever entertained for 
him the most affectionate attachment. 

In making such assertions as are found in Mr. Jeffer- 
son's volumes, and in recording what he calls, " false 
facts, " has Mr. Jefferson erred ? One can speak to another 
such things, as, if believed, would deprive the person spoken 
to, of the esteem and respect of his fellow men, and per- 
haps subject him to public punishment. The speaker, in 
such case, must be presumed to have weighed consequen- 
ces. One can speak of another, those things which would, 
if believed, produce like effects as to the person spoken of. 
There may be cases where it is justifiable and dutiful so to 
speak. Suppose one to speak such things, as are adapted 
to produce such effects, and that these things are false, and 
that the speaker hopes these effects will be produced, but 
that he shall not be known as the speaker ; what says the 
true law of honor, the law of the land, and the precepts of 
Christianity in such case ? Suppose one to write deliberate- 
ly, and calmly to revise falsehoods of the dead, and of the 
living, and to reserve these falsehoods for publication, when 
he should be beyond personal accountability to the living, 
and to the representatives of the dead, what is the sentence 
which impartial justice must pronounce on his own fame? 
Whether Mr. Jefferson has or has not erred, in any of these 
respects, is a question, on which he has appealed to posterity. 
Let posterity pronounce its judgment. 



LETTER XXV. 

April 15, 1833. 

There were several distinguished persons visiting in the 
United States, in the last five years of the last century, and 
among them some of royal blood. The Duke of Kent, son 
of George the Third, was here, father of the young princess, 
now heiress to the throne. He was a tall man, of light 
complexion ; no opportunity occurred to describe, in him, 
any peculiar traits of character. The present King of 
■ France was here, by the name of Mons. d'Orleans, accom- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 89 

panied by his two brothers, who were called, before the revo- 
lution, by the respective names of the Duke de Montpensier 
and the Duke de Beaujolois. Both the latter are long 
since deceased. The Duke of Orleans was a man rather 
above middle stature, dark complexion, rather sunken eyes, 
and of very dignified deportment. He kept aloof from the 
agitation of politics. The friends of France, apparently, 
did not think that his possible destiny could affect their 
interests. He made extensive excursions in this country, 
and was well informed, probably from his own observation, 
of its condition and prospects. He was in the best society 
in the several cities. The instability of human fortune has 
been strongly illustrated in the life of this person. Born to 
high distinction, he had the affliction of seeing it all disap- 
pear as a vision, and himself reduced to the necessity of 
toiling for subsistence. He bore his reverses with magna- 
nimity, and profited from them, and may now be the better 
monarch from these causes. Since his exaltation to the 
throne he has done honor to his own heart by recognising 
the courtesies and kindness experienced in this country. 

A gentleman now known as one of the first merchants in 
the world, and as a member of Parliament, Mr. Alexander 
Baring, was then in this country. He was a man of mid- 
dle stature, of light complexion and blue eyes. He was 
considered to be a well informed person, and of highly 
respectable manners. As to the former, this has since been 
verified by useful and intelligent performances in parlia- 
mentary debate. He married an American lady, the 
daughter of Mr. Senator Bingham, who built and dwelt in 
the house now known as the " Mansion House " in Phila- 
delphia. This was one of the places at that time of elegant 
hospitality in the " beautiful city," as it was called. " Beau- 
tiful," however, should have been applied to what is intel- 
lectual and social, in that day, no less than to that which 
has not yielded to the unsparing hand of time. Certainly, 
the social intercourse of Philadelphia, at the close of the 
last century, was as delightful and interesting as could be 
found on the globe. There may have been elsewhere, more 
names, places of assembly, titles, and distinctions, than in 
Philadelphia, at this period. But being the seat of govern- 
ment, and place of Washington's abode, and Congress being 
then an object of attraction to visiters, and this city the 
8* 



90 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

attractive point for all distinguished foreigners, the society 
of Philadelphia was well entitled to the praise of elegant, 
and refined. 

Volney, the correspondent of Mr. Jefferson, the cele- 
brated traveller, philosopher, and contemner of Christianity, 
(as his works show,) figured here at this time. He had a 
genuine French physiognomy, which no one could misun- 
derstand. He was a tall, straight, well formed person ; high 
forehead, blue eyes, small mouth, and peculiar expression 
of face. He asked Washington to give him letters of 
recommendation, to be used in his excursion in the states. 
He was probably understood. The letter given contained 
only these words : " C. Volney needs no recommendation 
" from George Washington." 

The foreign ministers, then in Philadelphia, made their 
houses places of agreeable resort. They usually gave a 
dinner once a fortnight, and an evening entertainment, 
commonly a ball, once in the same space of time. Mr. 
Liston was then the British minister. He was a Scotchman, 
of common size, dark complexion, and not distinguised for 
courtly manners. He wore a wig with curls at the sides. 
He had an amiable, knowing face. He was much esteemed. 
The Spanish minister was named d'Yrujo, then or after- 
wards a duke, and who has since made some figure in 
Spanish affairs. He was a short, full man. He married a 
lady of that city, a daughter of Chief Justice McKean, a 
lady of celebrity for beauty. Among the members of Con- 
gress who made part of the fashionable world, was William 
Smith, of South Carolina, a gentleman much distinguished 
in debate on the federal side : and Robert Goodloe Harper, 
also of South Carolina, who came into Congress on the 
other side, but who conscientiously felt, in a short time, that 
he was on the wrong side, and gave it up. He made a 
celebrated speech on the French Revolution, which was 
printed in England, and very generally distributed. This 
speech was prepared in Boston, where he passed a part of 
the summer of 1795. Mr. Harper was a well formed man, 
of middle stature, and uncommonly full chest ; and then 
much in fashion in his personal appearance. He was a 
man of strong mind, a fluent orator, of respectable, but not 
adorned manner. In his private intercourse he was ex- 
ceedingly amiable and pleasant. He was a man of excel- 



ox PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 91 

lent heart, and friendly disposition, and, as a public man, 
one of the most respectable of that time. He settled after- 
wards in Baltimore, and married the daughter of the survi- 
vor of those who signed the declaration of independence. 
He held the rank of genera], and distinguished himself 
honorably, in repelling the attack of the British on Balti- 
more in the late war. General Harper and William Smith, 
are among the number of those whom Mr. Jefferson will 
introduce to posterity as monarchists, and as being among 
" the worthless and disaffected." 

Mr. Carroll (just now alluded to) was rather a small and 
thin person, of very gracious and polished manners. At 
the age of ninety, he was still upright, and could see and 
hear as well as men commonly do. He had a smiling ex- 
pression when he sf)oke ; and had none of the reserve which 
usually attends old age. He was said to have preserved his 
vigor, by riding on horseback, and by daily bathing in cold 
water. He was a gentleman of the " old school " of de- 
portment, which is passing away, if not gone. 

-Mr. Gallatin made a distinguished figure in the House, in 
these days, on the opposition side. He indicated his origin 
by his pronunciation of our language, in a manner not to 
be mistaken. It appears from the records of the Senate, 
when his right to a seat there was objected to in 179o, on 
the ground of defect in citizenship, that he was born in 
Geneva, in January, 1761, and was for some time a teacher 
of the French language at Cambridge. He was considered 
to be a very able man, and has proved to be such in the 
stations and writings of subsequent time. He was rather 
above the common size, of intelligent face and brilliant 
black eye. He was a frequent speaker in the House, an 
argumentative, and not a graceful one. Mr. Madison was 
then in Congress, and an efficient member on the opposition 
side. A man of small stature, and grave appearance. At 
the close of his presidency, he seemed to be a care-worn 
man, and seemed, by his face, to have attained to a more 
advanced age than was the fact. He had a calm expres- 
sion, a penetrating blue eye, and looked like a thinking 
man. He was dressed in black, bald on the top of his 
head, powdered, of rather protuberant person in front, small 
lower limbs ; slow and grave in speech. Mr. Madison was 
a warm advocate for the Union, and the associate of Jay 



92 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

and Hamilton, in the effort to make it acceptable to the 
public. But he early became an opponent of the adminis- 
tration, and closely allied to Mr. Jefferson. It would be 
exceedingly interesting to know what this eminent man's 
opinions are, now that he can look back, dispassionately, on 
a long, active, and responsible political life ; and what acts 
of his public life, if any, he disapproves ; and whether in 
his calm retrospection, he is satisfied with his pretensions 
to be ranked among the truly worthy successors of Wash- 
ington. 

However it may have been with Mr. Madison, he may 
have discerned, since his time, that public office in the 
United States is not always a solemn trust to be executed, 
according to enlightened conscience, for the common good : 
but may be a mere convenience to carry into effect the un- 
worthy purposes of party allegiance. 

Among the eminent men who lived in Philadelphia at the 
close of the last century, was Robert Morris. He was born 
in England, in 1733, and came to America when he was 
fifteen years of age. He was placed in the counting-house 
of Mr. Willing, father of Thomas Willing, who was the first 
President of the United States Bank. On coming of age, 
he was copartner with the latter gentleman, and continued 
to be so for nearly forty years. Though Robert Morris was 
of English birth, he devoted himself to the patriot side, in 
the revolutionary contest. He had acquired great wealth as 
a merchant, but he cheerfully risked the whole of it to gain 
the independence of his adopted country. The final suc- 
cess of the revolution depended no less on the ability and 
industry of this one man, than on all the armies, with 
Washington as their chief When Congress had exhausted 
their means, all other means depended on Robert Morris. 
At one time he had used his own personal credit to the ex- 
tent of one million four hundred thousand dollars, to sustain 
the credit of the United States. The records of these times 
are the honorable proofs of the esteem and respect in which 
both Congress, and Washington, regarded his patriotic 
labors and services. 

He was the founder of the first bank in this country, a 
signer of the declaration of independence, member of the 
convention which framed the constitution, for some years a 
senator in the national government, and the personal friend 
of Washington. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 93 

In 1784, under the old confederation, he resigned his 
office of " Financier," and when the new government went 
into operation, he was solicited to take the place of Secretary 
of the Treasury, but declined, and recommended the ap- 
pointment of Hamilton. 

After leaving all public employment, he exercised the 
same inventive genius and indefatigable industry, which he 
had devoted to the public service, in his own affairs, and 
engaged deeply in many and extensive enterprises ; and 
especially in the purchase of lands. Massachusetts had a 
claim to extensive tracts within the limits of New York, of 
which he became the purchaser. 

In 1795 -G, he was in the splendor of prosperity, and 
then about sixty-three years of age. His house was at the 
corner of Sixth and Market Streets, and he had laid the 
foundation of a palace in the square, on the south side of 
Chestnut Street next above Sixth, (if rightly remembered,) 
with the intention of making the whole of that space his 
residence. His home was the abode of noble, cordial hos- 
pitality, abounding in every thing that tended to make 
hospitality delightful. In his person (as now recollected) 
he was nearly of six feet in stature, of large, full, well- 
formed, vigorous frame, with clear, smooth, florid complexion. 
His loose gray hair was unpowdered. His eyes were gray, 
of middle size, and uncommonly brilliant. He wore, as 
was common at that day, a full suit of broadcloth, of the 
same color, and of light mixture. His manners were gra- 
cious and simple, and free from the formality which generally 
prevailed. He was very affable, and mingled in the common 
conversation, even of the young. 

Within the three years following, his very extended 
concerns became embarrassed, and his prosperity declined. 
The extraordinary talents which were able to manage the 
monied concerns of the nation, under the most desperate 
circumstances, were incompetent to extricate himself from 
the difSculties which surrounded him. It is painful to 
know, that this able and commanding person, in the affairs 
of his country, and of society, closed his life under exceed- 
ingly depressed circumstances. Still more painful to know, 
that the turn of the times, and means which Morris would 
have abhorred, raised some men to places of high distinc- 
tion, and put them in the way to be long remembered, 



94 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

while this aenerous, higii-minded patriot, 3Iorris, will be 
known to lew only, to have ever lived. He should be re- 
membered and honored, as among the earliest, and most 
persevering, and faithful worthies of this land ; while some 
men, who will be so held, should be regarded with proper 
sentiments, not for the good, but for the mischief which 
they achieved. Though Morris had leisure, at the close of 
his protracted life, to have laid in his claims to the respect, 
and to the gratitude of future ages, he left no memoir, 
letters, opinions, or Anas, by which his worth can be dis- 
closed to the country, which he so truly adorned, and so 
faithfully labored to save. 



LETTER XXVI. 

April 20, 1833. 

In 1795, the Governor of Massachusetts was the cele- 
brated Samuel Adams. He came in after Hancock, May, 
1794, and was then seventy-two years of age. He remained 
three years in office. He was one of the most ardent of 
the patriots, before and during the revolution ; a popular 
writer and energetic speaker. He was of common size, 
of muscular form, light blue eyes, light complexion, and 
erect in person. He wore a tie wig, cocked hat, and red 
cloak. His manner was very serious. At the close of his 
life, and probably from early times, he had a tremulous 
motion of the head, which probably added to the solemnity 
of his eloquence, as this was, in some measure, associated 
with his voice. He was in favor of adopting the federal 
constitution, but became an opponent to the administration. 
Though he and Hancock were the oidy two men excepted 
in the British proclamation of amnesty, they were, at one 
time, on very ill terms with each other from differences in 
opinion. He died in 1803. Samuel Adams was a sincere, 
devoted, and most effective agent in the revolutionary cause, 
with his pen, his tongue, and by example. He put every 
thing dear to him upon the issue. 

He wa.s succeeded in 1797, by Increase Sumner, taken 
from the bench of the Supreme Court. Governor Sumner 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 95 

was of large person, a sensible man, of truly amiable char- 
acter. He took an active part in the convention in favor 
of the constitution. He died in June, 1799, much re- 
gretted. 

He was buried with the formal ceremonies, which have 
been observed here, on such occasions, ever since Han- 
cock's time. Four chief magistrates have died in office. 

The Chief Justice was Francis Dana, who was sent to 
Russia as minister during the war, and was absent three 
years. He was a man of common stature, thin person, 
stooping a little, and of studious face. He was called an 
able lawyer, and was a very direct, clear, forcible speaker, 
but his manner, on the bench, was severe. In winter, he 
wore a white corduroy surtout, lined with fur, and a large 
muff; probably Russian acquisitions. Robert Treat Paine 
was also on the bench. He was a signer of the declaration 
of independence. He was a man of common stature, but 
very thin person ; and of quick, ardent temper, as his black 
and sparkling eye might indicate. He did not hear easily. 
The manners of the court to the bar were, in those days, 
far from courteous ; which occasioned the remark of Mr. 
Ames, that a lawyer should come prepared with a club in 
one hand, and a speaking trumpet in the other. In his 
private life, he was a kind-hearted, and affectionate man. 
He was long in public life, and in responsible stations, but 
there is not a speech, nor a word of his, preserved. He 
was a strong, earnest speaker, but could not be ranked 
among the eloquent. 

In 1800, Theodore Sedgwick took his seat on the bench 
of the Supreme Court. He was a zealous advocate for the 
adoption of the constitution, and is frequently mentioned by 
Mr. Jefferson, as one of the monarchists; and is included 
among the disaffected and worthless. He had been for many 
years in Congress, and Speaker of the House. He moved 
that the House should pass the necessary laws to carry the 
British treaty into effect. He was a man of large size, of 
good face, of dignified and courteous deportment, but with 
something of display of manner. From the time of his ap- 
pointment to the bench, the conduct of the court towards 
the bar underwent an entire revolution, and the former 
causes of complaint soon disappeared. He was supposed to 
have induced this important change. Judge Sedgwick had 



96 



FAMILIAR LETTEftS 



the reputation of being a good lawyer, and a gentleman, in 
every meaning of that term. 

Towards the end of the last century, among the men who 
were then juniors, and who were afterwards to take a very 
important part in the affairs of the country, Avere Christopher 
Gore, (then District Attorney,) Samuel Dexter, Harrison 
Gray Otis, and John Quincy Adams. There was also at the 
bar John Lowell, who, though he was not in Congress, nor 
in the national government in any station, had great in- 
fluence on public opinion, as an undaunted and powerful 
writer in subsequent days, as there will be occasion to show. 

Among the known writers on the opposition side, was the 
indefatigable Benjamin Austin, author of a long series of 
essays signed " Old South," and many others. They have 
ceased to be remembered ; but they may, at some distant 
day, be worth an historian's perusal, as indicative of the 
temper of the times. On the other hand, there was a very 
able writer who signed himself " Laco." His waitings 
attracted great attention ; but the author kept his own 
secret ; and it is not known who he was. 

About the end of the century, the forms of society under- 
went considerable change. The levelling process of France 
began to be felt. Powder for the hair began to be unfash- 
ionable. A loose dress for the lower limbs was adopted. 
Wearing the hair tied, was given up, and short hair became 
common. Colored garments went out of use, and dark or 
black, were substituted. Buckles disappeared. The style 
of life had acquired more of elegance, as means had in- 
creased. Crowded parties, in the evening, were not as 
common then as they are now. There was more of socia- 
bility, and less form and display, than there is now. Some 
of these changes may be referred to the increase of numbers, 
and of wealth. The Americans are not a people of light, 
spiritual amusement, as the French and Germans are. In 
this part of the country, they are much more like what the 
English are represented to be. There must be many still 
living who remember the frank, friendly, social, uncere- 
monious intercourse which prevailed thirty or forty years 
ago. Has it disappeared ? If it has, from what cause ; 
and is the present state of things a better one? 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 97 



LETTER XXVII 



April 30, 1833. 

The retirement of General Washington was a cause of 
sincere, open, and indecent rejoicing among the French 
party in the United States. In France it was an event 
long desired, and cordially welcomed. The real friends of 
this country, and who were intelligent enough to compre- 
hend the probable consequences, considered the loss of 
Washington's personal influence a public calamity. 

At the time when the necessity of finding a new candi- 
date for the presidency engaged the general attention, the 
relations of the United States with France were never more 
vexatious and embarrassing. President Washington had 
recalled Mr. Monroe, and sent over Charles Cotesworth 
Pinckney, as his successor. The government of France 
was then vested in a Directory of five ; a Council of An- 
cients, and an Assembly of five hundred. Mr. Monroe 
was allowed a very gracious and complimentary retirement, 
from the presence of the French dignitaries ; he was told 
at the same time, what an abominable government his own 
countrymen had, yet how ardently the French loved them. 
But Mr. Pinckney was refused a reception, threatened 
with police custody, and at length, peremptorily ordered to 
quit the French territory. About this time, orders were 
issued to capture American vessels, wherever found, and 
bring them in as prize. These orders were faithfully exe- 
cuted. The French colonies in the West Indies sent out 
great numbers of privateers ; and that of St. Domingo alone, 
sent out eighty-seven. 

Before this change in the French policy was known in 
the United States, the election of President came on. 
There was great difference of opinion among the federal 
party, whether to seek the election of John Adams, or 
Thomas Pinckney. As the constitution then was, both 
were voted for, by that party, expecting that one of them 
would be President, and the other Vice President. Mr. 
Jefferson and Mr. Clinton, of New York, were the two 
opposing candidates. Most unexpectedly the result was, 
that Mr. Adams stood highest, Mr. Jefferson next, and Mr. 
9 



98 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Pinckney third. It was supposed that so many of the 
eastern electors, as preferred Mr. Adams to Mr. Pinckney, 
placed the latter candidate lower than they intended to do, 
and thereby gave a result which was exceedingly unwel- 
come, as to the Vice President. 

Mr. Adams, on the day of his inauguration, (March 4, 
1797,) was in his C2d year. He was dressed in a full 
suit of pearl-colored broadcloth ; with powdered hair. He 
was then bald on the top of his head. Mr. Adams was of 
middle stature, and full person ; and of slow, deliberate 
manner, unless he was excited ; and when this happened, 
he expressed himself with great energy. Mr. Adams was 
a man of strong mind, of great learning, and of eminent 
ability to use knowledge, both in speech and writing. He 
was ever a man of purest morals : and is said to have been 
a firm believer in Christianity, not from habit and example, 
but from diligent investigation of its proofs. He had an 
uncompromising regard for his own opinion ; and was 
strongly contrasted with Washington, in this respect. He 
seemed to have supposed that his opinions could not be 
corrected by those of other men, nor bettered by any com- 
parison. He had been, from early manhood, a zealous 
patriot, and had rendered most essential services to his 
country, at home, and abroad. These he always seems to 
have had in mind. He well remembered the painful strug- 
gles experienced in Europe, to obtain aid for the patriots at 
home, and an acknowledgment of independence, from gov- 
ernments there, while the war was yet regarded, by England, 
as rebellion. He ought to have known, as would seem 
from his own writings, in what manner public services are 
estimated. An individual can easily remember how much 
good he has done to a community ; but those who are ben- 
efited, as easily forget. If public ingratitude is common, it 
is very natural. It is not improbable that Mr. Adams was 
impatient in finding how much more the easily understood 
services of military men were appreciated, than were the 
secluded, though no less important ones, of diplomatic 
agency and cabinet counsel. So made up, from natural 
propensities, and from the circumstances of his life, Mr. 
Adams came to the presidency at the time when more 
forbearance, and discretion were required, than he is sup- 
posed to have had. He seems to have been deficient in 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 99 

the rare excellence of attempting to see himself as others 
saw him ; and he ventured to act as though every body saw 
as he saw himself He considered only what was right in 
his own view ; and that was to be carried by main force, 
whatever were the obstacles. 

He found Mr. Pickering in the department of state, and 
continued him there. This gentleman was intelligent, hon- 
est, and, like himself, disposed to respect his own opinion. 
Mr. Pickering had been most confidentially relied upon by 
Washington, and expected the like intercourse with Mr. 
Adams. But, perhaps, no two men, who had been asso- 
ciated in the national councils, except Jefferson and Ham- 
ilton, were less likely to harmonize than these two ; but 
from what causes, others must judge, from better means of 
information than can be herein pretended to. 

Mr. Pinckney's treatment in France was among the first 
objects that engaged the attention of the new President ; 
and connected with it, the seizure and condemnation of 
American vessels, and the harsh treatment of their navi- 
gators. Mr. Adams thought the state of affairs demanded 
the deliberations of Congress, and its members were as- 
sembled on the 15th of May, 1797. In his speech, he 
commented on the expressions of the French government 
when Mr. Monroe took leave, as being highly derogatory 
to this country ; he said he should make a new attempt to 
conciliate ; but, thought it indispensable that Congress 
should put the country, in such a state, as to enable it to 
vindicate its honor, and independence. 

Mr. Adams united, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, El- 
bridge Gerry, and John Marshall (now Chief Justice) in 
a mission to France, with very ample powers. These 
envoys were assembled at Paris in the month of October 
following ; and immediately attempted to execute their 
commission. They gave the usual notice of their presence, 
and of their readiness to be accredited. Scenes followed 
of most exasperating character. Overtures, proposals, and 
demands were made, which excited an almost universal 
indignation in the United States, and, for a time, even 
silenced the devoted friends of France. The despatches 
of these Envoys are the authority for the occurrences at 
Paris. The first of these was received at the close of the 
year 1797, and others, later during the winter. On the 



100 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

3d of April, 1798, all the despatches, then received, were 
communicated to Congress, and made public. 



LETTER XXVIII. 

May 5, 18.33. 

From such authority it appears, that Mr. Osmond, pri- 
vate Secretary of Mr. Talleyrand, then minister for foreign 
affairs, made known that the American Envoys could not 
be received until certain expressions in Washington's last 
speech to Congress, concerning the conduct of France, 
were disavowed, and atoned for, and that certain other 
things must be done before the Envoys could be received, 
and treated with ; that with a view to such arrangements, 
unofficial individuals would confer with the Envoys, and 
make known the views of the Directory. Such individuals 
presented themselves. Who they were was not then known ; 
as their names were written in cipher, and not communi- 
cated to Congress. Instead of their names, the letters 
X, Y, Z, were used. In Mr. Jefferson's volumes he has 
many remarks on the X, Y, Z, affair. He seems to have 
been insensible to the conduct and character of the French 
government. He discerned nothing humiliating, insolent, 
or offensive, in the treatment of our Envoys. He says, 
(vol. iii. p. 402,) " the X, Y, Z, fever has abated considera- 
" bly through the country, as I am informed, and the alien 
" and sedition laws are working hard." Elsewhere he 
calls it, " the X, Y, Z, delusion." 

Such conferences could only have been permitted from 
the earnest solicitude of the Envoys to conciliate with 
France, and avoid hostilities. They knew that if war en- 
sued, the United States had to create its maritime force, 
and that before this could be done, the commerce of the 
country, then extensive, and valuable, might suffer still 
more than it had. They endured, therefore, an irregular 
intercourse, which they supposed would find an apology in 
the necessity of the case. 

Four things seem to have been positively demanded by 
Messrs. X, Y, Z. First, atonement for so much of Wash- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 101 

ington's speech as the Directory disliked ; secondly, the 
placing of France on the same privileged footing with Eng- 
land ; thirdly, a loan in a covert and disguised manner, of a 
large sum of money to France, so as to evade the appear- 
ance of a belligerent act, on the part of the United States, 
towards England ; fourthly, to give Mons. Talleyrand, to be 
divided between himself and his friends, 1200,000 francs, 
equal to about two hundred and twenty-tbree thousand dollars. 
These propositions were met, and rejected, in a dignified, 
and manly spirit, though urged in every variety of form, antl 
presented with menaces of the power of victorious and tri- 
umphant France. In one of these interviews, Mons. Y 
said : — " Gentlemen, I will not disguise from you, that, this 
" satisfaction being made, the essential part of the treaty 
" remains to be adjusted : II faut de 1' argent ; beaucoup 
" de I'argent." (Yom must pay money; you must pay a 
great deal of money. " He spoke much of the force, the 
" honor, and the jealous republican pride, of France, and 
" represented to us strongly, the advantages which we should 
" derive from neutrality, thus purchased. He said that 
" the receipt of the money might be so disguised as to prevent 
" its being considered a breach of neutrality by England, 
" and thus save us from being embroiled with that power. 
" Concerning the 1300,000 francs, little was said, that be- 
" ing completely understood, on all sides, to be required for 
" the officers of government, and, therefore, needing no 
" further explanation." In this manner this negotiation was 
prolonged during about five months, but without making 
any impression on the Envoys ; at the end of which time 
Mr. Pinckney and Mr. Marshall were ordered to leave 
France, but Mr. Gerry was invited to remain, and continue 
the negotiation. He did so ; and did not return till Octo- 
ber following. 

When these despatches were made public, as already 
observed, there was a general indignation in the United 
States, and the common cry, was, " millions for defence, 
not a cent for tribute." Mr. Gerry was severely censured 
for not having left France with his colleagues. There is 
no reason to doubt that he meant well ; and that he thought 
he could do alone, what he, and his two associates, Pinck- 
ney and Marshall, could not do jointly. He must have 
assumed that his better esteem individually, with the French 
9* 



102 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

rulers, would enable him to effect the purposes of the mis- 
sion. He found himself, however, in the hands of adroit 
managers, and was compelled, at last, to withdraw, without, 
of course, effecting any thing ; and in a manner which 
added nothing to his reputation as a diplomatist, though it 
did nothing to impair his integrity. 

At the summer session of Congress, in 1798, provision 
was made for defence, by authorizing the organization of an 
army, and for borrowing money. Loans were negotiated 
at eight per cent., which was afterwards made a topic of 
complaint, and abuse of Mr. Adams. The young men 
took up the subject of the country's affairs with great zeal ; 
and in Boston, Robert T. Paine, the celebrated poet, wrote 
the well known song of " Adams and Liberty." On the 8th 
of July, 1798, he delivered a highly wrought oration to his 
young associates. Addresses were sent to the President, 
from all parts of the country, glowing with patriotism, and 
with defiance of the great Republic. Mr. Adams had good 
reason to think, that he stood strong in the respect and 
affection of the people ; and may well have considered this, 
the proudest period of his public life. 

In the arrangement of the intended military force, all eyes 
were turned to Washington as the chief. Mr. Adams 
made known his intention to appoint him ; and in answer, 
without intimating a willingness to accept, he expressed 
his full approbation of the President's measures. He was 
afterwards appointed, with the condition that he might 
select his officers next in command. Some troops were 
embodied, and there was one encampment at Oxford, in 
Massachusetts. 

On the ocean, war began in earnest. The frigate Con- 
stellation, of thirty-eight guns, was immediately built, and 
the command given to Thomas Truxton, who, on the 9th of 
February, 1799, after an engagement of an hour and a 
quarter, captured the French frigate I'lnsurgent (in the 
West Indies) of fifty-four guns. The Constellation came 
home to refit, and on the 1st of February, 1800, met 1' Ven- 
geance, of fifty-four guns. The battle lasted five hours, at 
the end of which time, I'Vengeance was completely 
silenced, but not captured. A squall enabled her to escape, 
with the loss of one hundred and sixty men, killed and 
wounded. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 103 

In the early part of 1799, Mr. Adams contemplated a 
new attempt at negotiation with France, in Paris. All 
those who had so far supported Mr. Adams's measures, 
considered it inconsistent with the honor and dignity of 
the nation, to make any such attempt ; and that proposals 
to treat should come from France. Mr. Adams did not 
consult his cabinet on thiL occasion. When Mr. Pickering, 
and Mr. McHenry, (Secretary at War,) were informed that 
he intended a new mission, they remonstrated, and this 
made the breach, which had long been widening, irrepara- 
ble. On the 26th of February, 1799, the President ap- 
pointed Oliver Ellsworth, of Connecticut, Patrick Henry, 
of Virginia, and William Vans Murray, of Maryland, (then 
minister at the Netherlands,) Envoys Extraordinary, and 
drew up his own instructions. Mr. Henry declined, and 
William Richardson Davie, of North Carolina, was substi- 
tuted. 

France was surprised by the hostility of America ; more 
so that their influence in the United States was incompe- 
tent to prevent it. War was not her object. It could do 
her no good, and there was, undoubtedly, a disposition on 
her part to recede. The President, probably, took this 
view of the case, though it had not the approbation of his 
most intelligent supporters. Hamilton was much opposed 
to it, and is said to have written to the President to dis- 
suade him from sending Envoys. This dissent only made 
the President more determined to persevere. The breach 
occasioned by this measure, between the President and his 
two ministers, Pickering and McHenry, (and some other 
opinions, as it is said, expressed by the latter favorably to 
Washington,) made the cabinet relation of these persons 
too unpleasant to be endured; and, in April or May, 1800, 
the President abruptly dismissed both these ministers. This 
event excited much sensation. It probably had some in- 
fluence in reducing the federalists to a minority. But 
another measure, then thought to be highly impolitic, was a 
letter written by, and in the name of Alexander Hamilton, 
and published in 1800, " concerning the public conduct 
and character of John Adams." This letter, disclosing, as 
it did, and from an eminent man, a determined aversion 
from the continuance of Mr. Adams's official power, may 
be considered as among the operative causes of Mr. Adams's 



104 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

failure, at the ensuing election. This publication, what- 
ever may be thought of it as to the time in which it ap- 
peared, as to motives, and manner, may have hastened the 
fall of federalism. Nothing, it is believed, would have 
prevented it, in no very distant time. There was not then, 
and never has been since, a majority who were disposed to 
administer the government according to the true standard 
established by Washington, and conformed to by Mr. 
Adams, so far as his circumstances permitted ; although, 
w'hen pressed by necessity, subsequent administrations have 
always returned to it. 

The first subject of complaint against Mr. Adams, 
among the friends of the government, resulted favorably to 
the country. It prevented, for that time, the continuance 
of the United States in a war, for which they were unpre- 
pared, and in which they had much to lose, and nothing to 
gain. So far as mere interest was concerned, one would 
think Mr. Adams's policy was right. So far as honor and 
dignity were involved, there seem to have been different 
opinions. When the Envoys arrived, the Directory had 
disappeared, and Napoleon Bonaparte was First Consul. 
They were respectfully received ; a satisfactory " conven- 
tion, " or treaty, was framed, and duly ratified by both par- 
ties. Thus Mr. Adams had the honor and gratification, of 
bringing the long continued controversy with France to a 
conclusion, within his four years : — at least, until new 
difficulties arose. 

Besides the mission to France, and the letter of Mr. 
Hamilton, there were other circumstances, in his four 
years, which were turned to account against Mr. Adams, 
with great success. Among these were certain legislative 
measures, severely reprobated by those whom they were 
intended to affect. They furnished materials for abundant 
invective, as they were thought to be adverse to personal 
liberty, and freedom of speech. That they may be judged 
of, with the calmness which comes with the lapse of time, as 
to past events, it is worth while to speak of them more fully. 

Among the legislative movements, intended to affect the 
official reputation of Mr. Adams, was the motion of Edward 
Livingston, made, originally, in February, 1800, in the 
House of Representatives, to call on the President for his 
reasons, for having delivered up to the British, Jonathan 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 105 

Robbins, a native, and impressed American. The call 
having been answered, the motion was extended, February 
20th, and made to inculpate the President, for a dangerous 
interference of the executive power, with judicial decisions; 
that the compliance of the Judge (Bee, of South Carolina) 
was a sacrifice of the constitutional independence of the 
judiciary, and exposed the administration thereof to suspicion 
and reproach. Mr. Livingston supported his motion, in a 
speech of three hours ; Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Nicholas did 
their best to sustain him. 

On the other side, Mr. Bayard, Mr. Harper, Mr. Otis, 
Mr. Dana, and others, resisted the motion. On the 6th of 
March, John Marshall made his masterly and conclusive 
speech against the motion, which has been deemed equiva- 
lent to a judicial authority, and has been bound up in books 
of reports, and is referred to as such. The motion was 
finally rejected by a vote of about sixty-four to thirty-eight. 

This was a mere party effort, whether the mover, and his 
political friends, so intended it to be or not. The unques- 
tionable facts are, that this Jonathan Robbins was born at 
Watertbrd in Ireland ; that his name was Thomas Nash ; 
that he shipped on board the British frigate Hermoine ; that 
in September, 1797, he, with others, murdered one or more 
of the olBcers, and among others Lieutenant Foreshaw ; that 
he escaped, and got to Charleston, and was there July 
1st, 1799. He pretended that he was born in Danbury, 
(Connecticut,) but the selectmen certified, that they knew 
of no such person, nor any one of the name of Robbins, in 
the town. Admiral Parker applied to Mr. Liston, the Brit- 
ish minister, to request of the President to deliver up Nash, 
pursuant to the 27th article of the British treaty with the 
United States. The President wrote to Judge Bee to 
deliver him up, he then being in custody. Proper evidence 
of his identity, and of his crime, being presented to the 
judge, he was delivered up, tried, and executed. He con- 
fessed (it is said) at the time of execution, that he was 
Thomas Nash, born in Ireland. 

Mr. Marshall's speech (now Chief Justice) went to prove, 
that this was a proper exercise of executive power under 
the treaty, as the crime was committed within the jurisdic- 
tion of Great Britain. His speech was a most satisfactory 
answer to the position taken on the other side, that Nash 



106 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

was punishable in the United States, if punishable at 
all, as n. pirate. The cause for demanding Nash was, that 
he had coniniitted murder; an offence against British, and 
not against American law ; that whether he had also com- 
mitted piracy, or not, (which crime, wheresoever committed, 
may be punished by any nation, among whom the culprit 
may be Ibund,) he was a proper subject for delivery under 
the 27th article of the treaty, as a murderer. So the House 
decided. 

This incident is strongly illustrative of the times. It is 
well remembered, that the impression sought to be made on 
the public mind, was, that the President had delivered up 
one of his own countrymen, in obedience to British ""requisi- 
tion, to be hung; notwithstanding, the accused citizen, had 
done no more than he lawfully might do, to escape from the 
tyrannical impressment of the mistress of the seas. It is 
not surprising that any administration should be overthrown, 
when such calumnies were easily received as truths. 



LETTER XXIX. 

May 7, 1833. 

Other legislative measures referred to, were the alien 
and sedition laws. In 1797, there were computed to be 
thirty thousand Frenchmen in the United States, all of 
whom were devoted to their native country, and all of whom 
were, in some way, associated, through clubs, or otherwise, 
and who had a strong fellow feeling. This number does not 
refer to the emigrants who had fled on the commencement of 
the revolution ; but to men of very different order, who had 
left France, (after the monarchy had fallen,) from necessity 
or choice. Besides these, there were computed to be fifty 
thousand who had been subjects of Great Britain, and some of 
whom had found it unsafe to remain at home. They fled to 
a country, as they understood it, where they should be free to 
do any thing which they thought fit to do, in the name of 
*' liberty," and where its enemies might be encountered, 
whether in office, or not. A combination was formed, and 
organized with more detail than is common in military 



ON PUBLIC CHAIIACTERS. 107 

usage, and prepared to act with union and effect, in any 
" emergency." Philadelphia, at that time the seat of 
government, was the head-quarters of this combination. 

" The American Society of United Irishmen, " was at 
this time, a very formidable body. In the troubles in 
Ireland, • the United Irishmen there, had revived their 
associations under the impulse of the French Revolution, 
and the British government encountered them with civil and 
military force. Some eminent men had joined the Union, 
and entertained the hope of securing an independent govern- 
ment. Thomas Addis Emmett engaged in this enterprise, 
which was wholly, and disastrously unsuccessful. After a 
long imprisonment, that gentleman came to the United 
States in 1804, at the age of about forty, and rose to high 
professional eminence. He was of amiable character, and 
was highly esteemed. When the British government had 
entirely defeated the objects of the United Irishmen, it was 
proposed that they should be allowed to emigrate to the 
United States. This measure, Mr. King, then minister at 
London, strenuously opposed. After Mr. Emmett came to 
this country he discussed publicly, with some severity, this 
opposition. It is believed that Mr. Emmett did not other- 
wise interpose, in any respect, in political movements, on 
this side. Some who had been involved in the troubles of 
Ireland came to the United States in 1795, and the two fol- 
lowing years, bringing with them, of course, a bitter hostil- 
ity to the English government ; and a devotion to France, 
naturally arising from the belief, that the great Republic 
was prevented only by British superiority at sea, from 
sending over a force competent to establish liberty in their 
native land. It was easy for such emigrants to learn, 
and believe, that the government of the United States was 
the proper object of their hatred, as identified with the 
government at home ; and that every thing tending to up- 
hold and honor republican France, demanded their zealous 
attachment. The combinations of the United Irish could 
not be misunderstood by our government ; and they were 
sufficiently alarming to require preventive measures. The 
Jacobin Clubs in the United States, if not then existing in 
name, were still so sympathetic with these alien combina- 
tions, as to be a most effective auxiliary. It is believed 
that they were still organized, and in full vigor ; though 
they were put down in France after the fall of Robespierre. 



108 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

In the then state of the country, in relation to France, 
(which might intend to send over a military force, relying 
on the aid to be found within our own territories,) these 
powerful allies were, very justly, a subject of alarm, and 
were so considered by the President. 

In the official speech made to Congress, at the May 
session, 1797, the President makes these remarks: "It is 
*' impossible to conceal from ourselves or the world, that 
" endeavors have been employed to foster and establish a 
" division between the government, and the people, of the 
" United States. To investigate the causes which have en- 
" couraged this attempt, is not necessary ; but to repel, by 
" united and decided councils, insinuations so derogatory 
" to the honor, and the aggressions so dangerous to the 
" constitution, union, and even independence of the states, 
" is an indispensable duty. 

" It must not be permitted to be doubted, whether the 
" people of the United States will support the government 
" established by their voluntary consent, and appointed by 
" their free choice ; or whether, surrendering themselves to 
" the direction of foreign and domestic factions, in opposi- 
" tion to their own government, they will forfeit the hon- 
" orable station which they have hitherto maintained." 

Congress passed a law, which was approved, on the 18th 
of June, 1798, providing, among other things, for the 
manner in which aliens might become citizens, whereby 
the facility with w-hich citizenship had before been ac- 
quired, was much restricted. 2. It empowered the Presi- 
dent to order all such aliens, as he should judge to be dan- 
gerous to the peace and safety of the United States, or 
concerned in treasonable measures, to leave the United 
States. 3. To grant licenses to aliens to remain during 
the President's pleasure. 4. It provided imprisonment, not 
exceeding three years, to such aliens as remained without 
license, and perpetual disqualification to become citizens. 
5. It authorized the President to require bonds of aliens 
for good behavior. 6. Masters of vessels arriving in the 
United States, were required to report the names of aliens, 
if any were on board, under penalty of three hundred dol- 
lars. 

It appears from a letter of Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Madison, 
(vol. iii. p. 389,) that the mere discussion of this law had a 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 109 

salutary eft'ect. He says, " t!ie threatening appearances 
" from the alien bills, have so alarmed the French who are 
" among us, that they are going olf. A ship, chartered by 
" themselves for this purpose, will sail in about a fortnioht 
" for France, with as many as she can carry. Among these, 
" I believe, will be Vulnri/, who has, in truth, been the prin- 
" cipal object aimed at by the law." This gentleman 
(Volney) has been before mentioned. He was a long 
time in this country, and was thought to be an emissary of 
France. 

As this law was made at the suggestion of the President, 
(John Adams,) it furnished a new and prolific theme of re- 
proach. It was called by the opposition a British measure ; 
a servile copying of the forms of kingly despotism ; and an 
.incontestable proof of design to assimilate our government 
to that of England, and eventually to arrive at monarchy. 

This law was considered, (and especially in Virginia,) by 
all opponents of the administration, as vesting in the Presi- 
dent an authority capable of perversion to a most alarming 
extent. Although it was expressly limited to aliens, yet it 
was pretended, that it might be, and would be, applied to 
native citizens. The opposition presses poured out their 
invective with renewed vigor, and were able to make a 
deep and lasting impression. Yet, when considered in itself, 
independently of party excitements, every one must admit, 
that all governments ought to exercise the power of sendino- 
aliens from their territories, whenever their presence is, or 
may be, incompatible with the public peace and security. 
There can be no distinction between a monarchy, and a 
republic, in this respect. The clamor against this law, un- 
doubtedly, had an effect in impairing the President's popu- 
larity ; though it is not recollected to have been carried into 
effect, in a single instance. 

The other law alluded to, was called the sedition law ; 
and, among the opposition, the " gag law." These were its 
principal provisions ; it made punishable these offences, viz. 
1. Defaming or bringing into contempt, the Congress, or 
President. 2. Exciting the hatred of the people against them. 
3. Stirring up sedition in the United States. 4. Raisino- 
unlawful combinations for resisting the laws, and lawful 
authorities. 5. Aiding and abetting foreign nations against 
the United States, their people, or government. 
10 



110 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Looking back dispassionately, to these days, with a full 
knowledge of the designs of France, and at the perils of 
the country, from its internal enemies, (though they did not 
so consider themselves, and therefore the more dangerous,) it 
is inconceivable that such a law should have been unwelcome 
to any, whom it was not intended to restrain. The alien law, 
it was said, if limited to aliens, was an exclusion of suffer- 
ing patriots from the only asylum left to them on earth. 
This was odious enough, to be sure. But to make a law 
which prevented the free citizens of the United States from 
discussing the conduct and character of their own servants, 
and the nature of their public acts, was utterly intolerable. 
The complainants made no account of the fact, that punish- 
ment could not be inflicted under this law, but through the 
agency of a grand jury, in the first place ; and then by the 
result of a trial by jurors, impartially selected from among 
the people. They disregarded, or knew not, how important 
a change was made of the English law of libel, then in force, 
by this very law, in the provision therein contained, that it 
should be lawful for the defendant to give in evidence, the 
truth of the matter contained in the publication charged as 
a libel ; and that the jury should have the right to determine 
the law, and the fact, under the direction of the court. 

There can be no stronger proof of the delusion which 
prevailed, than is found in the clamor against this law, 
from one end of the Union to the other. Intelligent Ameri- 
can citizens joined in this clamor, and some eminent men 
of the opposition, gave their able support to it. An alien, 
by the, name of James Thompson Callender, was indicted 
under this law for the publication of a book, entitled " The 
Prospect before Us," comprising a series of calumnies, and 
libels, against the measures of the government. Callender 
was convicted at Richmond, in May, 1800, on trial before 
Judge Chase. The manner of this trial, constituted one 
article of impeachment against this magistrate. It was said, 
that Mr. Jefferson knew of this publication, before it ap- 
peared, and approved of it. However this may be, Mr. 
Jefferson admits, in a letter to Mr. Monroe, (vol. iii. p. 494,) 
that he knew Callender, and considered him " a man of 
science fled from persecution," and that he contributed to 
his relief. He afterwards contributed a second time ; and 
gave him fifty dollars as a third relief; and again fifty dol- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. Ill 

lars. Mr. Jefferson says, that Callender then asked the 
office of Postmaster at Richmond, which being refused, 
Callender became his enemy ; and published that Mr. Jef- 
ferson helped him to print his book. 

Whether a sedition law was necessary or not, may be 
judged of from these extracts from Callender's " Prospect 
before Us." " The reign of Mr. Adams has been one con- 
" tinned tempest of malignant passions. He has never 
" opened his lips, or lifted his pen, without threatening and 
" scolding. Mr. Adams has labored, with melancholy suc- 
" cess, to break up the bonds of social affection." " Adams 
" and Washington have since been shaping a series of these 
" paper jobbers, into judges and ambassadors, as their whole 
" courage lies in want of shame. These poltroons, without 
" risking a manly and intelligent defence of their own 
" measures, raise an affected yelp against the corruption of 
" the French Directory ; as if any corruption would be 
" more venal, more notorious, more execrated than their 
" own." " Mr. Adams has only completed the scene of 
" ignominy, which Mr. Washington began." " By sending 
" these ambassadors to Paris, Mr. Adams, and his British 
" faction, designed to do nothing but mischief." " This 
" hoary headed incendiary, (Adams,) this libeller of the 
" Governor of Virginia, bawls out, to arms ! then to arms ! " 
" He is not an object of envy, but of compassion and hor- 
" ror." " When a chief magistrate is, both in his speeches 
" and newspapers, constantly reviling France, he cannot 
" expect, nor desire, to live long in peace with her." 
" Take your choice, then, between Adams, war, and beg- 
" gary ; and Jefferson, peace, and competency." These 
are only a small portion of similar expressions, which " The 
Prospect before Us" contains. 

This unfortunate disagreement between this " man of 
science " and Mr. Jefferson, did not, probably, occur until 
the latter became President ; because one of Mr. Jefferson's 
first official acts was the release of Callender from prison. 
The reason which Mr. Jefferson gives for this interposition, 
is a remarkable one ; it is contained in a letter to George 
Hay, Esq. (in vol. iv. p. 75, written while Burr was on trial,) 
which shows how Mr. Jefferson construed constitutional 
power. He says, " In the cases of Callender and others, 
" the judges determined the sedition act was valid, under 



112 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" the constitution ; and exercised their regular powers of 
" sentencing them to fine and imprisonment. But the ex- 
" ecutive, " (that is, Thomas Jefferson,) " determined that 
" the sedition act was a nullity under the constitution, and 
" exercised his regular power of prohibiting the execution 
" of the sentence, or rather of executing the real law, which 
" protected the acts of the defendants. From these different 
" constructions of the same act, by different branches, less 
"mischief arises, than from giving any one of them a con- 
" trol over the others." Thus it is seen that Mr. Jefferson 
asserted the right of declaring any law a nullity, although 
the judicial power, w'hich has the exclusive constitutional 
right to decide, had determined otherw'ise. This was not a 
perversion on his part, but was his notion of right and 
wrong. Duane, or Bache, it is not recollected which, (both 
of whom published papers of which Mr. Jefferson approved,) 
was one of the " others " to whom Mr. Jefferson alludes. 
This editor was under an indictment, at the suggestion of 
the Senate, for a libel on that body. Mr. Jefferson ordered 
this prosecution to be dropped, as soon as he became Presi- 
dent. He also ordered the marshal of Virginia to pay back 
to Callender the fine of two hundred dollars imposed on 
him ; though Mr. Jefferson might as lawfully have ordered 
the whole contents of the treasury to be paid to him. 

The expediency, and even the necessity of the alien and 
sedition laws, cannot be doubted by any reasonable man, in 
the condition of the country at the close of the last century. 
Unless the people of the United States were disposed to see 
their own government, and their own public officers, sub- 
mitted to the dominion of foreign and internal combinations, 
such laws ought to have had their respect, and approbation. 
There may have been some provisions, in these laws, which 
were inexpedient ; that of vesting certain powers in the 
President, may be thought so. It would have saved him 
from some odium, perhaps, if the power to order aliens out 
of the country, had been vested in some judicial officers. 
It is not obvious how the President was to acquire that 
knowledge of facts, which would enable him to exercise his 
powders without oppression. It w'as an authority which an 
executive officer could hardly desire ; and one which subse- 
quent experience of official aptitudes, would not incline one 
to see renewed. These were perilous days, originating in 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 113 

the distempered state of Europe ; and it is to be hoped, that 
the like will not recur from such, or any other cause. 

Among other legislative movements in the summer of 
1798, was a proposition made by Mr. Griswold, (afterwards 
Governor of Connecticut,) to amend the sedition law, by 
providing for the punishment of such persons as interfered 
in the diplomatic affai;s of the United States, and foreign 
nations. Early in A^^Jfear a certain Dr. Logan departed 
from Philadelphia i^yR|^, charged with a private mission 
on public affairs to th^^irdPtofy. By whom sent, was no 
secret. The House addresjed" the President, two to one, on 
this very serious subject ; andpa like address passed the 
Senate, with only five dis^tatieiits. * In this address it is said, 
" We deplore that there ^MUthwUi-who call themselves by 
" the American name, wnaEkav^^'aasltagly insulted our 
" country, by an usurpation of pwfifrs^t delagftted to them, 
" and by an obscure interference ilraur conlferns." 

Mr. Jefferson was said, at the tii^j/io llMj^^^nlt yLogan 
to Paris. In one of his letters, he ans\^jS(kSora^mc[airy on 
this subject ; and says, that the accusati»Mis g^f undless ; 
that Logan was self-appointed, and that he fJ^k. Jiffeijg^^ 
did no more than to give him some sort of passport, ^p J^ 



LETTER XXX. 

May 17, 1833. 

An act of Congress, re-organizing the judiciary, passed 
on the 13th of February, 1801, was considered almost uni- 
versally, by the profession of the law, as a wise and expe- 
dient measure. It proved to be among the acts of Mr. 
Adams's administration which attracted, especially, Mr. 
Jefferson's disapprobation. The details of this act show it 
to have been prepared with great ability, and of all the 
objects of vindictive demolition, this, certainly, was best 
entitled to be spared. It divided the United States into six 
circuits, and provided for the appointment of three judges 
in each, leaving the judges of the Supreme Court to exercise 
power as a court of appeals, and for the correction of errors. 
Between the 13th of February and the 4th of March all the 
judges were appointed by Mr. Adams, and the commissions 
10* 



114 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

issued. The individuals selected for these offices were men 
of high standing, and worthy of all confidence. But the 
popular cry was set up, and the measure vehemently con- 
demned by all the Jeffersonian party. The judges were 
called " the midnight judges of John Adams," in allusion 
to the supposed time of appointment, at the close of his 
official duties. It will hereafter be seen what Mr. Jefferson 
thought of this measure. He said, though one can hardly 
credit that he did so, that he regfod^d all Mr. Adams's 
appointments after the 14th of February, (while the House 
of Representatives were balloti|^g for President,) as abso- 
lutely void. This must be understood to mean, that though 
Mr. Adams was constitutionally President up to the mid- 
night hour of the 3d of March, "yet he ought to have sub- 
mitted his will to that of his successor ; and should have 
refrained from carrying an -act of Congress into effect which 
might not conform to fhat will. On the same principle, 
Mr. Jefferson withheld the commissions of certain magis- 
trates, whopi Mr. Adams had appointed, in the District of 
Columbia* The commissions were made out, and ready for 
delivery, but Mr. Jefferson ordered them to be suppressed. 
One.x3f these magistrates (Mr. Marbury) applied to the 
Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus (command) to Mr. 
Madison, the new President's Secretary of State, to deliver 
his commission. But after an able investigation of consti- 
tutional law, the court did not grant the motion. Mr. Jef- 
ferson found a commission, duly made out and signed by 
Mr. Adams, appointing a gentleman District Judge in 
Rhode Island. This commission he suppressed, and Mr. 
Jefferson appointed one in whom lie could conjidc. 

Among his friends. President Adams was thought to have 
exercised an indiscreet act of mercy in pardoning one John 
Fries. This person was tried at the Circuit Court of the 
United States, held at Philadelphia in April, 1800, on a 
charge of treason. Samuel Chase, a Judge of the Supreme 
Court of the United States, and the District Judge, Peters, 
sat in the trial. 

The "federal" administration of the government of the 
United States terminated with Mr. Adams's four years, on 
the 4th of March, 1801. Whether it would have continued 
longer, if some other man of that party had been Washing- 
ton's successor, can only be matter of conjecture. This 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 115 

may perhaps be admitted, that some other man, Thomas 
Pinckney, for example, might have conducted public affairs 
with more prudence and conciliation. Mr. Adams was 
liable to sudden impressions, and was little inclined to sur- 
render them under the influence of counsel. lie felt great 
confidence in the purity and soundness of his own views, 
and thought the good of the country required that they 
should be carried into effect. He failed, probably, in test- 
ing his own opinions by comparing them with the opinions 
of other men. Such comparison cannot depreciate sound 
opinions, and may often correct erroneous ones. It may 
be, that Mr. Adams had some tendency to be jealous of 
those around him, and disposed to apprehend that they 
meant to exercise a control, to which it would be deroga- 
tory to submit. But this apprehension would not prevent a 
dignified inquiry into the sentiments of others ; nor an 
adherence to his own, if they remained unshaken. It may 
be too, that Mr. Adams over-valued his own services, and 
importance, as a public man ; and was inclined to be his 
own counsellor with more pertinacity than became a person 
of his knowledge and actual experience. Whatever may 
have been his qualities, this is certain, that he aided the 
purposes of his political adversaries, and disconcerted some 
of his best political friends. It is very possible, therefore, 
that a more discreet man might have continued the federal 
party in power, for another term. But Mr. Jefferson and 
his partisans and newspapers, had made such and so general 
an impression on public opinion, as to demonstrate, that 
the original construction of constitutional power was not 
destined to endure. The control which a certain class of 
men, in this country, are likely ever to have over a majority, 
leads to the conclusion, that they will always impose on such 
men, as constituted the federal party, the duty of forming an 
opposition, or of submitting to a popular despotism. This, 
as history proves, again and again, is the precursor of real 
despotism. Such seems to have been man's destiny ; and 
what there is, or may be, to exempt Americans from it, is 
not discerned from any experience hitherto had. 

Taking out of the case Mr. Adams's peculiarities, the 
measures of his four years were honorable and useful to the 
country ; incomparably more so (as will be proved) than 
those of the next eight years. If the purpose of establishing 



116 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

a national constitution was to maintain the honor, dignity, 
and independence of the United States, with foreign powers ; 
to preserve peace and security within our own limits ; to 
provide for the pure and able administration of justice ; and 
to use all the powers delegated as they were used the first 
eight years, that is, for the good of the whole, and not for 
the henejit of a liarty^ the federal administration under Mr. 
Adams accomplished these purposes. 

As to foreign powers ; a good understanding was pre- 
served with England. A favorable treaty was made with 
Tinpoli. The former connexion with France was annulled, 
and provision made for defending the country, and for main- 
taining its rights by force. These efforts were successful ; 
hostilities soon ceased, and a favorable convention, or treaty, 
was effected. The prosecution of the war was in a spirit 
well worthy of the national honor, while it continued. The 
proper measures were adopted to preserve interior tranquil- 
lity ; and to prevent the threatened dominion of deluded, 
or mischievous factions. A faithful performance of duty as 
to the promotion of all those objects which constitute do- 
mestic welfare, and prosperity, is apparent from the various 
statutes which were passed. Among others there was an 
act establishing a uniform system of bankruptcy, which 
the Jeffersonian administration permitted to expire. The 
naturalization of aliens was placed on a rational and safe 
basis. The judiciary was carefully revised, and a system 
for the administration of justice was arranged, founded on 
the experience of several years, and having a prospective 
bearing on the probable exigencies of the country. The 
navy was advanced and placed on a respectable footing ; 
and has now become an object of popular fiivor. In short, 
a more energetic, pure, and patriotic exercise of constitu- 
tional power, could neither be expected nor desired. 

But, this exercise of the power of government necessarily 
involved expense. It was necessary to resort to loans, and 
to internal taxation. These were causes of declamation, 
and reproach ; and were most faithfully availed of, to make 
the administration, and especially Mr. Adams, odious in 
popular estimation. Thus it appeared then, as it has done, 
ever since, that the adroit and cunning who rule the multi- 
tude, may do what they will ; and burthen the country to 
any extent, involve it in hopeless war, and pervert all its 



ON PUULIC CHARACTERS. 



117 



institutions at their pleasure, and yet, all is well. " Tlie 
friends of the people " can do no wrong. 



LETTER XXXI. 

May 21, 1833. 

On the 14th of December, 1799, General Washington 
died, after a short illness. On Friday, the 13th, he had 
been exposed to a light rain ; and his hair and neck became 
wet. He followed his usual occupations, within his house, 
during the afternoon and evening, without any indisposition. 
In the following night he was affected by a general ague, 
and with a difficulty in swallowing ; but no apprehension was 
then entertained that he was seriously ill. At eleven the 
next day physicians attended, who found all their skill was 
required. The disorder in the throat was seen to be an 
affection of the wind-pipe, usually called the croup. Every _ 
effort was made to rescue him from the attack, and he 
patiently submitted to all the prescriptions of his attendants. 
Perceiving, before the close of the day, that his recovery was 
beyond hope, he desired to be relieved from any further 
efforts, and to take his position on his bed. There, with 
perfect calmness and resignation, he remarked to a friend, 
that he had known for some time, that he was dying, but 
that he was not afraid to die. At eleven o'clock, the same 
evening, he expired. 

The" decease of Washington was apparently a cause of 
universal mourning. That portion of the citizens who had 
always held him in the highest respect and honor, were sin- 
cerely mourners, while those who had felt his example, and 
influence, to be a restraint on their purposes, could join in 
the general grief with pleasure. The most respectful de- 
monstrations of the national loss, were every where shown. 
The halls of Congress were hung with black, and General 
Henry Lee, of Virginia, was appointed to deliver a eulogy 
before the House of Representatives. The state legislatures 
expressed their respect for the conduct and character of 
Washington, by appointing orators to commemorate him, or 
by such other testimonials as the occasion called for. Vari- 



118 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

ous societies, of which Washington was a member, appointed 
eulogists. Fisher Ames and George R. Minot were among 
the orators in Boston. It is worth remarking, that the gen- 
eral sentiment of respect and affection for this eminent man, 
was so exalted, that few of the orators did, or could, come up 
to the demand. The feeling of these public speakers was, 
and must have been, that of deep veneration, a feeling not 
adapted to bring forth the touching expressions which would 
be grateful to a numerous audience. Washington's charac- 
ter was rather to be contemplated, than talked of. He was 
to be estimated by comparison with other men, and a eulogy 
does not permit of this. His eminent worth was to be found 
in no one brilliant act, nor in any remarkable achievements, 
but in a whole life of useful, dignified, and honorable ser- 
vice. Most of the eulogists were compelled to resort to 
biographical sketches, which do not admit of much elo- 
quence. Even Mr. Ames did not succeed, in this effort, so 
well, as the undefined expectation of his audience required. 
The enthusiasm of the French better adapts oratory to fune- 
ral eulogy, than the good sense and sobriety of Englishmen, 
or Americans. Such efforts are rarely attempted in England, 
though common in France. 

In Congress, a resolve was passed to raise a monument in 
the city of Washington, and application was made to Mrs. 
Washington for permission to deposit beneath it the remains 
of her husband. This lady assented. But the resolve itself, 
is the only monument hitherto raised ; and the remains of 
Washington repose in the family tomb at Mount Vernon, 
and are there to remain, so far as can now be discerned. 
The more lengthened the remove from Washington's life- 
time, the less, it is feared, will Washington be remember- 
ed. Probably a large proportion of the adult population 
of the United States hardly know, who or what he was ; 
and there may be some voters who know not that there 
ever was such a man. The intelligent people of other 
countries seem to know more of Washington, and to 
respect his character more, than is common among his 
own countrymen. His military and civil example, and 
his eminent virtues as a man, have given him a rank in 
foreign estimation, which make manldnd proud of him. If 
his own countrymen have forgotten him, or if certain self- 
stamped patriots so misunderstand his character, as to call 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 119 

themselves his disciples, it is grateful to know that the in- 
telligent of other countries are better inlbrnied. 

It might have been expected, that a grateful nation would 
have demanded of Congress, to adorn the city, that bears the 
name of Washington, with such a monument as would illus- 
trate the sense of his merits. Since March 4, 1801, that 
assembly have had too much business of their own to attend 
to, to think much of that which is purely public, and free 
from party. Marshall has raised one monument by his able 
pen. Another is preparing through the indefatigable indus- 
try of Mr. Sparks. The latter is a judicious selection from 
the voluminous writings of Washington, designed t(* show 
the state of his own thoughts, in the most eventful and inter- 
esting periods of his life. Five volumes, the 2d to the 6th, 
have appeared, and are understood to have satisfied the pub- 
lic wishes, and to have fully sustained the high reputation of 
Mr. Sparks. But these are monuments for readers. The 
national monument should rise for every eye, and that all 
who behold it, may be reminded of him to whom they are 
far more indebted, than to any other man, for civil liberty ; 
and which may keep alive the desire to know under what 
circumstances, and for what purposes, he lived. The mar- 
ble is now submitted to the masterly genius of Grcoioiigh, 
and the capitol may be adorned with it in time to save the 
country from the charge of ingratitude. 



LETTER XXXII. 

May 27, 18.33. 

Mr. Jefferson left the office of Secretary of State, 
December 31, 1793, and remained at Monticello, till called 
to the Vice Presidency, in March, 1797 ; although in retire- 
ment, he was not inattentive to the transactions at the seat of 
government. The proof of this is found in the letter written 
by him to an Italian, named Mazzei, under date of 24th of 
April, 1796. This Italian had come over to America, under 
the expectation of being able to cultivate the vine, in Vir- 
ginia, and had chosen Mr Jefferson's neighbourhood for his 
purpose. An intimacy appears to have grown up ; and 



120 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Mazzei having returned to Florence, Mr. Jefferson wrote to 
him, as may be presumed, in the utmost confidence; and 
discloses his own views of Washington's administration. 
This letter appears to have been carefully, not to say studi- 
edly, written. Whether the writer intended it should be 
published or not, it is not easy to decide. Perhaps he 
intended it should be, and to take the good or evil of the 
publication. Its contents, when compared with the animad- 
versions which appeared in Freneau's paper, and also in 
Bache's, very clearly prove, that these must have had Mr. Jef- 
ferson's hearty concurrence. This letter was published in the 
Moniteur of Paris, on the 2.5th of January, 1798, with many 
commentaries. Thence it came to this country, and was 
published here. It excited great attention among both par- 
ties. The partisans of Mr. Jefferson were not so far devoted 
to France, as to relish so unqualified a denunciation of the 
administration of their own country. They had no resource 
but to consider it a malignant forgery, designed to disparage 
Mr. Jefferson. From him, nothing was heard on the sub- 
ject. The federal party had no doubt of the authenticity 
of the letter. They understood well, the views and purposes 
of this gentleman, and saw, in this letter, a perfect accord- . 
ance therewith. The letter was as follows : * 

(From the Paris Moniteur, a French official paper, of the 2oth of 
January, 1798.t) 

" MoNTicELLo, April 24, 1796. 
" Dear Sir, 

" Our political situation is prodigiously changed since 
" you left us. | Instead of that noble love of liberty, and 

* Since this page was written, a very able analj^sis of Mr. Jeffer- 
son's attempts to explain away this Mazzei letter, has appeared in 
the " History of the Hartford Convention," by Theodore Dwight; see 
pages 23 to 25. This attempt at explanation, was not published in 
Mr. Jefferson's lifetime, but is found in his volumes. "Whoever 
reads Mr. Dwight's analysis will be satisfied, that Mr, Jefferson's 
effort on this occasion, to preserve his fame as a fair, plain-dealing 
man, has been very far fiom successful ; and that if he intended his 
letter should find its way to the press, he made a blunder; and if he 
did not, he was chagrined by the publication. 

t This letter, literally translated, is addressed to Mazzei, author of 
Researches, Historical and Political, upon the United States of Ameri- 
ca, resident in Tuscany. 

t It does not appear when Mazzei came, nor when he left the United 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 121 

" that republican government, which carried us through 
" the dangers of the war, an Anglo-iMonarchic-Aristocratic 
" party has arisen. Their avowed object is to impose on 
" us the substance, as they have already given us the form, 
" of the British government. Nevertheless, the principal 
" body of our citizens remain ftiithful to republican princi- 
" pies, and also the mm of talents. We have against us 
" (republicans) the Executive power, and the Judiciary ; 
" (two of the three branches of our government;) all the 
" OFFICERS of government, all who are seeking for offices, 
" all timid men who prefer the calm of despotism to the 
" tempestuous sea of liberty; the British merchants, and tlie 
" Americans who trade on British capital, the speculators, 
" persons interested in the bank, and public funds : [Es- 
" tablishments invented with views of corruption, and to 
" assimilate us, to the British model, in its corrupt parts.] 

" I should give you a fever if I should name the apos- 
" TATES, who have embraced these heresies, men who were 
" Solomons in council, and Samsons in combat, but whose 
" hair has been cut olf by the whore of England. They 
" would wrest from us that liberty, which we have obtained 
" by so much labor and peril ; but we shall preserve it. 
" Our mass of weight and riches is so powerful, that wg 
" have nothing to fear from any attempt against us by force. 
" It is sufficient that we guard ourselves, and that we break 
" the LILLIPUTIAN TIES by which they have bound us, in 
" the first slumbers that succeeded our labors. It suffices 
" that we arrest the progress of that system of ingratitude 
" and injustice towards France, from which they would 
" alienate us, to bring us under British influence." 

It is obvious, that in 1796, while Mr. Jefferson was a 
private citizen, he had no means of keeping himself in view, 
but by private conversation and correspondence. This let- 
ter, compared with others of his, seems to have been written 
for effect ; the concluding paragraph, especially, was adapted 
to the meridian of Paris, and there it may have been 
intended to go, and there it did go. Would any gentleman 



States. It is probable, from the tenor of this letter, that both these 
events happened before the adoption of the Constitution. If so, it 
shows that Mr. Jefferson preferred the condition, antecedent to the 
adoption. 

11 



122 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

have ventured to make such a letter public, without some 
intimation from the writer, that such use of it would be 
agreeable to him ? 

Yet it seems that the publication of this letter greatly 
disconcerted Mr. Jefferson. He shows his trouble in a 
communication to his friend, Mr. Madison. Now as Mr. 
Jeffer.son takes the greatest pains to prove, that he always 
retained the good will of Washington, whose honorable 
fame he had not been able to demolish, but had found it 
necessary to sustain his own by showing that Washington 
thought well of him, it was indiscreet to publish this letter 
to Mr. Madison. In truth, it is wonderful that Mr. Jefferson 
should have prepared such matters for publication as his 
volumes contain ; more wonderful, that his surviving friends 
should have published from his own pen, a confirmation of 
all the political blunders which federalists charged him 
with. Nor of such blunders only : for as to the true char- 
acter of the man, these volumes contain the proof of facts, 
which, but for them, would have rested much on probability 
and inference. In this letter to Mr. Madison, (August 3, 
1797, vol. iii. p. 363,) after an ingenious commentary on 
what he did mean in his letter to Mazzei, he says, " Now it 
" would be impossible for me to explain this publicly, with- 
'• out bringing on a pcrsoncd difference between General 
" Washington and myself, which nothing, before the publi- 
" cation of^ this letter, has ever done. It would embroil me 
" also, with all those with whom his character is still popu- 
" lar, that is to say, with nine tenths of the United States. 
" And what good would be done by avowing the letter with 
*' the necessary explanations ? very little, indeed, in my 
" opinion, to counterbalance a great deal of harm. From 
" my silence, in this instance, it cannot be inferred, that I 
" am afraid to own the general sentiments of the letter. If 
" I am subject to either imputation, it is to avowing such 
" sentiments too frankly both in private and public, often 
" when there is no necessity for it, merely because I disdain 
" EVERY THING LIKE DUPLICITY. Still, howcver, I am open 
" to conviction. Think for me on the occasion, and advise 
" me what to do, and confer with Colonel Monroe on the 
" subject." 

It does not appear, that these two counsellors were able to 
relieve their friend from his distress ; though it does appear 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 123 

that he never afterwards ventured to see Washington, or 
went to Mount Vernon but once afterwards, and then for 
the purpose of ivecping at his tomb. 

It is probable, that Mr. Jefferson felt the full weight of 
the embarrassment of reconciling this Mazzei letter, with 
his solemn declarations in the Senate chamber ; and with 
his oath there taken, that he would support the same con- 
stitution, notwithstanding he told Mazzei that it was Lilli- 
putian ties, and the substance and the form of the British 
government. These declarations were made, and this oath 
taken, within a year before this letter was published in 
the United States, and within a year after that letter was 
written. 

Extract from the Inaugural Address of Mr. Jefferson, when inducted 
into the office of Vice President of the United States, March 4th, 
1797. 

" I might here proceed, and with the greatest truth, 
" to declare my zealous attachment to the constitution of the 
" United States ; that I consider the Union of these states 
" as the first of blessings ; and as the first of duties, the pre- 
" servation of that constitution which secures it ; but I suppose 
" these declarations not pertinent to the occasion of entering 
" into an office whose primary business is merely to preside 
" over the forms of this House ; and no one more sincerely 
*' prays, that no accident may call me to the higher, and 
" more important functions, which the constitution eventu- 
" ally devolves on this office. These have been justly con- 
" fided to the eminent character who has preceded me here, 
" whose talents and integrity have been hioivn and revered 
" by me, through a long course of years ; have been the 
" foundation of a cordial and uninterrupted friendship be- 
" tween us ; and I devoutly pray he may be long preserved 
" for the government, the happiness, and prosperity of our 
" common country." 

Now compare these sentiments with the rccd ones enter- 
tained by Mr. Jefferson, concerning the constitution and 
Mr. Adams, as confdcntiaUy expressed in Mr. Jefferson's 
volumes, and the true character of the man, in public and 
in private, stands forth, stripped of all masks and disguises. 
" But, (say Jefferson's partisans,) admit all these facts ; call 
" them contrivances, duplicities, and frauds, if you will ; did 



124 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

"not Jefferson demolish fcdcroUs7n ? " He did. But the 
question is, did he do good to his country by that ; or only 
to HIS PARTY? If only to the latter, (if good it can be 
called,) do the members of his party approve the means 
which he used 1 If they do, they should not claim for Mr. 
Jefferson sentiments due only to the just and pure. It may 
appear, on further exairiination of Mr. Jefferson's public 
life, that no man has lived in the United States who has 
done so much to be lamented as done by him. It may 
appear, that he did no good even to his party, if they are 
intelligent and worthy citizens of a free republic. The 
good which Mr. Jefferson did for himself may be tested by 
this : Who would have had that good, and that character of 
himself, which Mr. Jefferson has published and submitted 
to the world ? 

When Mr. Jefferson came to Philadelphia, in JMarch, 
1797, he was about fifty-four years of age. His personal 
appearance, as now recollected, was this : He was a tall 
man, over six feet in stature ; neither full nor thin in body. 
His limbs were long, and loosely jointed. His hair was of a 
reddish tinge, combed loosely over the forehead, and at the 
sides, and tied behind. His complexion was light or sandy. 
His forehead, rather high and broad. His eye-brows long 
and straight ; his eyes blue, his cheek-bones high, his face 
broad beneath his eyes, his chin long, and his mouth large. 
His dress was a black coat, and light under-clothes. He 
had no polish of manners, but a simplicity and sobriety of 
deportment. He was quiet and unobtrusive, and yet a 
stranger would perceive, that he was in the presence of one 
who was not a common man. His manner of conversing 
was calm and deliberate, and free from all gesticulation ; 
but he spoke like one who considered himself entitled to 
deference ; and as though he measured what he said by 
some standard of self-complacency. The expression of his 
face was that of thoughtfulness and observation ; and, cer- 
tainly, not that of openness and frankness. When speaking, 
he did not look at his auditor, but cast his eyes towards the 
ceiling, or any where but at the eye of his auditor. He had 
already become a personage of some distinction, and an 
object of curiosity; even to a very young man. These per- 
sonal descriptions are from memory, after the laj)se of many 
years, and may not accord with those of persons, who had 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 125 

more, and better opportunities to observe; and are not, 
therefore, offered with confidence, that Mr. Jefferson is here 
in all respects, justly described. 

During his vice-presidency, Mr. Jefferson was employed, 
as usual for that officer, in the Senate. It does not appear 
that the Vice President was ever called to cabinet meetings 
in Washington's time ; or that Mr. Jefferson was ever called 
to such meetings in the presidency of Mr. Adams, or ad- 
vised with by him in any way. One of his volumes shows 
that he continued his correspondence, especially with Mr. 
Madison, who was carefully advised of congressional pro- 
ceedings. Of his letters, Mr. Jefferson must have kept 
copies, (which is not supposed to be a common practice in 
familiar correspondence,) perhaps with intention to make 
them public, as he has done. This is an unusual course, 
because the parties written to have an interest in that mat- 
ter. Mr. Madison, Mr. Giles, Mr. Monroe, Dr. Rush, and 
others, derive no benefit from the publication of Mr. Jeffer- 
son's letters to them. He compiled a small volume of rules, 
for the government of the Senate. It is called Jefferson's 
Manual, and is a work of authority, and much respected. 

The very " great services " which he rendered in these 
four years, (as stated on his application to the Virginia 
legislature for leave to sell his estate by lottery,) in " making 
head against federalism," are not recorded in his copies of 
letters of his time, as one naturally expects to find them to 
have been. Nor are these " services" specially noticed as hav- 
ing been rendered within this time, though he considers them 
(on the occasion before mentioned) as the most important 
achievement of his political life. In this, as in some other 
instances, there is some ground for suspecting Mr. Jefferson 
of having resort to after thoughts, when it was convenient 
to do so, to meet present emergencies. Whether this was 
so, or not, readers will have an opportunity to form their own 
opinions. 

It is to be remembered, that this is not an attack, but a 
defence ; and that in defending it is indispensable to show 
Mr. Jefferson's own character, as disclosed by himself. 

11* 



126 FAMILIAR LETTERS 



LETTER XXXIII. 

June 1, 1833. 

No man has appeared in the United States in the last 
fifty years, whose character, public and private, has been so 
differently estimated as that of Thomas Jefferson. By some 
persons he has been considered as one of the most pure, 
amiable, dignified, wise, and patriotic of men. By others 
he has been considered, as remarkably defective in the 
qualities which dignify and adorn human life; and as one 
of the worst men, and most wrong-headed statesmen that 
ever lived. As Mr. Jefferson was neither a niilitp.ry man, 
nor an orator, nor public speaker at all, and had only, as 
means of influencing others, conversation and his pen, he 
acquired an astonishing ascendency over the American 
people. Readers will judge for themselves, which of these 
parties was right, and which was wrong. The present object 
is to exhibit Mr. Jefferson as he has seen fit to exhibit him- 
self, taking the product of his own pen, as the principal 
guide. He is his own voluntary witness ; and it is an in- 
flexible rule, that every man makes the best of his own case ; 
and that no evidence is so strong as one's own admissions. 
Mr. Jefferson employed himself in preparing the materials 
for a work, which he intended to have published to the world. 
He so employed himself, not in the hurry of the official 
scenes, in which he had been long engaged ; but in the 
calmness of retired life ; with the benefit of retrospection, 
and with the consciousness that he had a dcfaicc to make. 
If not so, then with the belief that he deserved a better fame, 
than might be allowed to him, if he did not plead his own 
cause. 

Before Mr. Jefferson is judged of, on the evidence which 
he has furnished himself, it may be proper to recognise some 
rules to be applied in estimating character. There are 
certain qualities which entitle a man to his own self-respect. 
He desires to be considered, by others, as having these 
qualities. Among these are, regard for the truth ; for no 
man endures the charge of mendacity. Every one desires 
to be considered honest; for, to be even suspected of dis- 
honesty, is to lose all just pretensions to esteem in the social 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 127 

relations of life. A gentleman desires to be considered as 
above all propensity to abuse the confidence, which the 
common intercourse of society requires. That which men 
express in the friendly and social circle, in the fulness of 
the heart, and witiiout a suspicion of malicious use of what 
is so expressed, and with the certainty of freedom from all 
deliberative misrepresentation, is ever held, by gentlemen, to 
be sacred. If this were not so, the intercommunication of 
thought, must be excluded from social life, and every one 
must speak as though in the presence of his enemies. 
Among well informed and polished men, there is a rule 
which approaches near to the golden rule, " Do as you 
would be done by," even though one feels no respect for the 
authority from which it comes. There is a class of high- 
minded men in society, who add to the acknowledged law 
of honor, the sanction of Christian duty, which demands 
candor, charity, forbearance ; and who consider the rule, 
above mentioned, as intended to be the best which can be 
prescribed, because it is founded in the human heart. 

Statesmen in a republic, who are called to the perform- 
ance of a public trust, are presumed to know, that they un- 
dertake such trust, under a very solemn obligation to execute 
it according to prescribed rules. They may misunderstand 
these rules ; if they do, they have not the capacity which 
the trust implies. They may misapply these rules; if so, 
they have not the intelligence which they assumed to have, 
when they bound themselves to observe them. They may 
intentionally pervert these rules, or substitute their own will 
for them ; if so, they are false and fraudulent. As all men 
in office are merely agents for constituents, they are held to 
account for capacity, intelligence, and fidelity. While they 
live, their constituents have the remedy of finding worthier 
agents, by the peaceable remedy of elections. When they 
have passed away, there is no earthly tribunal but that of 
public opinion. No man, not even the malefactor who dies 
by the halter, is regardless of what will be said of him, when 
he is dead. This sensibility is, doubtless, one of the pro- 
visions of man's Creator, to keep him in the path of his 
duties. 

There must always be two classes of public men in a free 
elective government. One of them holds political and social 
life, to be ordained by the Deity ; that man's natural pro- 



128 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

pensities and wants, properly regulated, were intended to 
prompt him to secure to himself the greatest good which he 
can have ; tliat the establishment of wise rules, and the 
faithful observance of them, in all social and political rela- 
tions, secure to rulers and to the ruled, the best condition 
which they can have. This class also holds, that all official 
station is a mere trust to be executed wisely and honestly 
for the common welfare. Those who are called to this 
trust, hope for the esteem and respect of their constituents ; 
if they fail to obtain these, they cannot be deprived of the 
consciousness of having deserved them. But, even for this 
class of public men, there cannot be claimed an exemption 
from errors, incident to human nature. 

The other class see in human society, only the means of 
satisfying the worst cravings of the human heart. They 
seek dominion, not for the common welfare, but for them- 
selves. They use the rules established for the general good 
to secure that dominion. They know that they must have 
adversaries in the first mentioned class, and in all who sup- 
port that class. These adversaries collectively, and indi- 
vidually, must be traduced, calumniated, and made odious. 
To their leaders must be denied talents and integrity. They 
must be accused of the basest designs. The sovereign people 
must be made to believe these criminations. To this end, 
any fraud, cunning, perversion, or machination, is justifiable. 
Private intercommunication, the public press, assuming to 
be friends and protectors of the people against their enemies, 
and to be the mere instruments of executing a popular will, 
which they create themselves, are the well known means. 
Why should not the great mass of the community be de- 
ceived, by such means ? They hear and read, only as these 
crafty politicians order. Why should they not believe what 
their best friends tell them for truths ? To what an anxious, 
miserable servitude do these politicians condemn themselves! 
Some of them prosper, it is true, to the end of life ; but in 
general, they are found out, and they close their career with 
sorrow, and disgrace. 

Among this great political class, there are prominent men, 
who have acquired the sincere belief, (from the habit of con- 
templating the acts, and designs of adversaries, in peculiar 
lights,) that the country cannot be safe in any hands but 
their own. They see through a distorting medium, but are 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 129 

honest in their views. Then there is a portion who are 
sincerely republican, as they understand tiie matter, who 
feel, rather tiian reason, on the political system, and who 
are liable to great mistakes. Then there is the class who 
misunderstand the meaning of " liberty and equality," and 
the order of society ; and who think any order must be 
wrong, which does not place them in positions as desirable 
as those which they see others to have. Then there are 
the master spirits who know how to excite, regulate, and 
control all these classes. To this combination, add the 
leaven of party feeling, made up of hopes and fears, partiali- 
ties and enmities, confidence and jealousy, ambition and 
avarice, and one comes to the dominant power in most 
popular governments. This power vehemently maintains, in 
words, the excellence of civil liberty ; and conducts, bi/ acts, 
inevitably to despotism. To this condition Americans seem 
to be hastening, notwithstanding they have the advantages 
of schools, means of instruction, and a free press. 

At first view, it strikes one with astonishment, that the 
great mass of citizens, who suffer most from the errors of 
ignorant rulers, or the frauds of dishonest ones, should sus- 
tain and applaud both of these classes of politicians. But 
one ought rather to be astonished, that a government which 
is conducted merely on party dominion, has continued as 
long as it has. Let any man examine into the true state of 
information in any city, town, or village, in the United States, 
and satisfy himself as to the sources of information which he 
finds there ; and he cannot wonder at the opinions which 
are prevalent, nor doubt as to the motives by which they are 
imparted. He may lament, as he will, that such opinions 
exist, but he can no more change them by stating truths, 
than he can change the stature of those who entertain them, 
by wishing to do it. The great mass of voters are not to be 
reproached for their errors in judgment, as to men, or meas- 
ures. For, to the natural impatience, and proneness to 
complain, which mankind have, under almost any govern- 
ment, is to be added the unceasing effort of the " people's 
friends " to teach that, and that only, which they desire to 
have tliis mass believe to be true. 

Whether Mr. Jefferson belonged to the honorable, high- 
minded, and intelligent order of statesmen, or to the man- 
aging, contriving, and unprincipled class of politicians, it is 



130 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

not assumed to decide. But it is intended so to arrange the 
materials, (furnished by himself,) for forming a judgment, 
as to enable others to decide for themselves. There is no 
reason why Mr. Jefferson should be exempted from appear- 
ing before that tribunal at which he has arraigned so many 
of his eminent countrymen. Is there, (to use one of Mr. 
Jefferson's favorite words,) a sacrosanct protection, or pano- 
ply for him, and for no other man 1 If so, is it found in his 
virtues, in his example, in his science, in his philosophy, in 
his religion, in his public services, his political wisdom and 
fidelity .' Let Mr. Jefferson speak for himself But why 
should the repose of the dead be disturbed 1 If Mr. Jefferson 
had lived out his term, and left his fame to history, as Wash- 
ington, Jay, Adams, and others have done, he would not 
have been now a subject of commentary. If he had left for 
publication his claims to the respect and gratitude of his 
countrymen, without interfering with the like claims of 
other men, history would have only to deal with him, as 
with other men. 

But when it comes to this, that in striving to uphold and 
honor his own fame, he attempts to deprive all his contem- 
poraries, who were not of his own school, not only of the 
ordinary respect and consideration to which men in public 
life may be supposed entitled, but to brand them as conspir- 
ators, and traitors, is he to go unanswered ? If it be said 
that history will do justice, will it not also be asked, where 
were the survivors of those who were charged with misde- 
meanors and crimes? Where were their sons and descend- 
ants? Why were they silent in their time? Have they not 
pleaded guilty by their silence, to all the criminations of 
Mr. Jefferson, both as to themselves, and their fathers ? 

It is not to present Mr. Jefferson in unfavorable lights, 
that these pages concerning him are written ; but to show 
the true value of his testimony against others. If he had 
left the federalists to be judged of, when he left the earth, 
without his testimony against them, they would have had no 
cause of complaint against him. His public acts, and their 
public acts, remain recorded. These would have been ex- 
amined, as the proper authorities, for the estimation of his 
merits, and of their merits, as public agents. The bitter- 
ness of party feeling, the personalities and enmities of adver- 
saries, would not have appeared in these records. Time 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 131 

would have obliterated all memory of them. It is, then, a 
surprising and sorrowful fact, that a retired President of the 
United States should have gathered the memoranda of his 
own unkind feelings, the tattle of his associates, the hearsay 
of excited partisans, the minutes of private and confidential 
intercourse, among guests invited to his own table, and 
dio-nify them with the title of " Memoirs and Writings 
of Thomas Jefferson!" This would only have been the 
subject of regret and pity, if it could be so understood in 
distant times, as it, probably, now is, by a great majority of 
all who have read these writings. But these writings will 
continue, and may be considered true, when those men- 
tioned in them, will not be known as they were known 
while they lived. It is then a duty, and one of which the 
performance is demanded by truth, justice, and patriotism, 
to weigh the worth of Mr. Jefferson's testimony. 

In contemplation of his posthumous work, Mr. Jefferson 
says, under date apparently of February 14th, 1818, (vol. iv. 
p. 44:3,) " At this day, after the lapse of twenty-five years 
"or more, from their dates, I have given to the whole a 
" calm revised, when the ])assions of the time have passed 
" aioay, and the reasons of the transactions act alone on the 
'' judgment. Some of the informations I had recorded, are 
" now cut out from the rest, because I have seen that they 
" were incorrect, or doubtful, or merely personal, or private ; 
" with which we have nothing to do." We are, therefore, 
to take all that Mr. Jefferson retains to be correct, free from 
doubt, and neither personal nor private ; and also to be that 
which Mr. Jefferson intended for the world after " calm 
revised." 



LETTER XXXIV. 



June 5, 1833. 



The perusal of Mr. Jefferson's writings raises the very 
difficult question, What was his motive for preparing them, 
and leaving them for publication ? 

Did the writer, in this case, mean only to vindicate him- 
self against aspersions made in his lifetime ; or against 



132 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

calumnies which might arise after lie was gone 1 Did he 
mean to arrogate to himself pre-eminent merit, as a citizen 
and statesman ? If so, was it necessary to his purpose to 
deny all merit to contemporaneous adversaries 1 Was it 
necessary to impute to these adversaries deliberate wicked- 
ness, long cherished and persevered in ? If he thought 
such a course necessary or proper, how should it have hap- 
pened that he so managed the matter as to have furnished 
to these adversaries, all the proofs which they could desire, 
of the errors and wrongs which they had imputed to him ? 

The only candid answer that can be given to such in- 
quiries is, that Mr. Jefferson entertained very erroneous 
opinions of himself, and of others, and of the nature of 
society. It is the more to be regretted, both for himself, 
and his country, if he was perfectly sincere in what he 
said and did ; and believed himself to be what he professed 
to be. From his self-education, and the course of his 
studies, from the natural turn of his mind, his perceptions 
of his fellow men, and of the natural and necessary laws 
of society, it is probable that he had formed rules of right 
and wrong, adverse to those commonly received. It is also 
probable, that Mr. Jefferson did not always respect the rules 
of moral action, which those who live according to Chris- 
tian precepts, are supposed to observe. It was doubtful, 
at least, before Mr. Jefferson's books appeared, whether he 
had any sound opinions on civil government; and whether 
he understood the true meaning of the political institutions 
under which he lived. His books have had no tendency to 
affect these doubts favorably to him ; certainly none to prove 
that he was wise and useful in his application of the rules, 
which the supreme law of the land prescribed to him. 

Whatever Mr. Jefferson may have said of constitutional 
rules, he thought himself under no obligation to observe 
them, whenever he found them inconsistent with his own 
views of expediency. He supposed a deliberate and solemn 
establishment of a form of government, intended by one 
generation for their own welfare, and that of all succeeding 
ones, until changed with the like solemnities, bound only 
the generation by which it was established. Selected to be 
the chief ruler, by the people, he was the proper organ for 
expressing their will, " Lilliputian ties," notwithstanding. 
Even in this political latitudinarianism, if he did not like the 



ON PUBLIC CUAHACTERS. 133 

motive which he had assigned for any act done by him, he 
was at liberty to assign any other, adapted to a present 
exigency. If Mr. Jefferson's writings show that such were 
his opinions, it does not necessarily follow that he was inten- 
tionally wrong. It only shows that such was the character 
of the man. How far he has maintained his claim to the 
respect and gratitude of his countrymen, as " the great and 
good Mr. Jefferson," is quite another matter. 

With no part of Mr. Jefferson's life, before he became an 
agent for the United States, is it intended to interfere. His 
services to his native state, his fellow citizens there will 
estimate. At the age of forty-one, (in 1784,) he departed 
from the United States, to represent his countrv at the 
French Court. He had, before that time, written his 
" Notes on \ Irginia," in which he had expressed some 
opinions tending to show, that he might be prepared to 
regard, with complacency, the doctrines which prevailed 
among certain philosophers. These men, (Voltaire, Rous- 
seau, D'x^lembert, Diderot, and others,) as is well known 
from their lives and writings, had expressed a total disre- 
gard of some precepts, which other men, commonlv reputed 
to be wise and virtuous, held in high respect. While he 
was there, the French Revolution began ; and it is in no 
wise discreditable to Mr. Jefferson, that he expected from it 
a political and social renovation, which no country could be 
more in need of than France. In this fermenting region, 
Mr. Jefferson remained until the close of 1789, and then 
came home. Meanwhile the national government had been 
established, and he had been invited, by President Washing- 
ton, to take the place of Secretary of State, which he did, 
at New York, on the 22d of March, 1790. 

Mr. Jefferson had never approved of the constitution. 
He came into place with an honest and decided dislike of 
some of its powers. He came in also, with an equally 
honest and inveterate hostility to England ; and with a zeal- 
ous devotion to the revolutionary measures of France. He 
had, no doubt, such recollection of English measures during 
the war, and while he was governor of Virginia, as may 
have been a full justification, in his own mind, for all the 
opinions which he entertained. The necessity, and the 
utility, of the changes going on in France, were also sober 
convictions. Many other men, quite as honest and clear- 
12 



134 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

sighted as Mr. Jefferson, thought as he did, as to France, at 
that time. Whether he carried into public policy his hostility 
towards one nation, and his affectionate attachment to 
another, so tliorouglily as to lose all consideration for the 
interests of his own country, is a question on which there 
were two opinions among his countrymen. 

Mr. Jefferson found Alexander Hamilton at the head of 
the treasury, Henry Knox at the head of the war depart- 
ment, and Edmund Randolph, Attorney General, and these 
persons, with himself, were the constitutional advisers of the 
President. It is probable that this selection was made to 
inspire confidence in the administration. Hamilton was 
much esteemed in the state of New York, wherein there 
was a strong minority against the constitution. Knox was 
highly esteemed in Massachusetts, where there was also a 
strong minority. From Virginia, where the like opposition 
was vehemently manifested, it was, perhaps, deemed ex- 
pedient to take two members of the cabinet, both of them 
men of distinction, and one of them eminently so ; and both 
of them well known to have been adverse to the constitution. 
It may have been the intention of the President to have, in 
his councils, both sides of the case. 

It is well proved, that from the beginning Mr. Jefferson 
and Colonel Hamilton had very different views of expedi- 
ency ; equally well proved, that these gentlemen became 
personally opposed, if not personal enemies, and so much so 
as to call for the interference of the President to attempt a 
reconciliation. Here may, perhaps, be found one of the 
causes of the political conduct of Mr. Jefferson, and some 
of his motives for the declarations, as to Hamilton, which ap- 
pear in Mr. Jefferson's writings. 

The reproach which Mr. Jefferson, again and again, casts 
upon Hamilton, is, that he was a monarchist, and devoted to 
the British interest. At the distance of more than thirty 
years from the time, in which the scenes which he discloses 
occurred, and more than twenty years after Hamilton was 
dead, Mr. Jefferson intended the publication of the casual 
confidential remarks of Hamilton, with such coloring, proba- 
bly, as may have best suited his purpose. The point on 
which Mr. Jefferson seems to have founded Hamilton's 
political turpitude, was the proposal, and the support, of the 
" funding system," and the bank. This appears to have 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 135 

been considered, by Mr. Jefferson, as a corrupt design to 
assimilate the government of tlie United States to that of 
Eno-hmd, and gradually to introduce the political system of 
that country. The following are some of the many similar 
passages which are found in Mr. Jefferson's books, as pub- 
lished since his decease : 

Vol. iv. p. 450. " Hamilton was not only a monarchist 
" but for a monarchy bottomed on corruption." 

Same page. While Washington was absent, Jefferson 
invited the members of the cabinet, and Mr. Adams, to dine 
with him, to consult on Genet's movements. After dinner 
Mr. Adams said, " Purge the (British) constitution of its 
" corruption, and give to its popular branch equality of rep- 
" resentation, and it would be the most perfect constitution 
" ever devised by the wit of man." Hamilton said, " Purge 
" it of its corruption, and give to its popular branch equality 
" of representation, and it would become an impi-acticahle 
" government. As it stands, at present, with all its sup- 
" posed defects, it is the most perfect government that ever 
" existed." Mr. Jefferson adds, " Hamilton was, indeed, a 
" singular character. Of acute understanding, disinter- 
" ested, honest, and honorable, in all private transactions, 
" amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in private life ; 
" yet so bewitched and perverted by the British example, as 
" to be under thorough conviction that corruption was es- 
" sential to the government of a nation." 

Page 474. " Mr Butler tells me, that he dined last winter 
" in company with Hamilton and others. Hamilton declar- 
" ed openly, that there was no stability, no security, in any 
" kind of government but a m.onarchy." 

Page 503. December 27, 1797. " Tench Coxe tells me, 
" that a little before Hamilton went out of office," (nearly 
three years before,) Hamilton said, " For my part I avow 
" myself a monarchist ; I have no objection to a trial being 
" made of this thing called a republic, but, &c." 

There are many similar records of Hamilton, in this 
volume. This gentleman may have entertained speculative 
opinions on government. He may have supposed, that his 
own countrymen would not be able to carry on a republic. 
He may have believed, if he had lived to the present day, 
that he was actually a subject of something like despotic 
rule, with the apparent approbation of a majority of the 



136 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

people. Under what circumstances, and with what qualifi- 
cations, these opinions were uttered, Mr. Jefferson does not 
make known, nor does it appear to have been material to 
his purpose to have known. 

There are, in this volume, numerous remarks concerning 
Mr. Adams, apparently intended to make his fame odious to 
posterity. These remarks were preserved for publication, 
notwithstanding the renewed friendship with Mr. Adams. 
Some of them are these : December 26, 1797, (vol. iv. p. 
503,) " Langdon tells me, that Adams," (in allusion to votes 
given for Clinton in opposition to Adams,) " gritting his 
" teeth, said. Damn 'em, damn 'em, damn 'em, you see that 
" elective government will not do." 

Page 451. " Mr. Adams had originally been a repub- 
" lican. The glare of royalty and nobility, during his mis- 
" sion in England, had made him believe their fascination 
" to be a necessary ingredient in government. His book on 
" the American constitutions, had made known his political 
" bias. He was taken up by the monarchical federalists in 
" his absence, and on his return to the United States, he 
" was by them made to believe that the general disposition 
'Vof our citizens was favorable to monarchy." 

It is difficult to reconcile this course of remark, with any 
sound moral or social principle, which w-ell-in formed gentle- 
men recognise. It is very possible that Mr. Adams may 
have entertained the abstract opinion, that the government 
of Great Britain, with some modifications, may be the best 
of which mankind are capable. But this is a very different 
affair from assuming, that Mr. Adams thought such a gov- 
ernment should be attempted in this country. Let it even 
be supposed, as Mr. Jefferson would have it, that Mr. Adams 
thought that government the best for this country, what 
motive could Mr. Jefferson have had, twenty-five years after 
Mr. Adams had retired from public life, and had manifested, 
in various ways, a decided attachment to republican govern- 
ment, and after the ajfeetionate frienchhip between these 
two men had been cemented by a correspondence of the 
most confidential character, that these sayings (if they were 
ever said) should be treasured up, and given to the world ? 
One cannot but ask, how Mr. Adams would have regarded 
this ? And as he was gone, and could not have suspected 
that his friend intended any such reproach to his memory, 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 137 

then those who now consider these things, may ask, was 
this doing as one would be done by ? Or, is this the con- 
duct of a man of honor ; of a real gentleman 1 

There is another circumstance which Mr. Jefferson's 
writings bring into prominent notice, and which goes far to 
settle his true character. Washington had selected Mr. Jef- 
ferson for one of his most confidential advisers, and under 
circumstances which ought to have decided Mr. Jefferson to 
adopt one of two courses ; first, to reject the confidence ; or, 
secondly, to accept it, and to use it agreeably to Washing- 
ton's implied expectation. Now there was a translating 
clerk in Mr. Jefferson's office, by the name of Freneau ; 
who was also the publisher of the National Gazette. This 
paper was issued continually, for the principal purpose of 
bringing Washington's administration into contempt. It 
denied to him personally, both capacity and integrity. 
Freneau not only so published, but it was his practice daily 
to send, three copies of his paper to Washington. This be- 
came intolerable, and Washington could not forbear to 
speak to his cabinet counsellor, on this highly unjust and 
abusive conduct of his own clerk ; and requested his inter- 
ference, as a member of the administration, to rebuke Fre- 
neau. Considering the relation in which Jefferson stood to 
Washington, and the fact of Freneau's dependence on the 
former, what would have been the course of a fair dealing, 
conscientious person? Mr. Jefferson, more than thirty years 
after this time, and in contemplation of his own decease, and 
in preparing the materials for pages to be read after he was 
gone, tells what his course was. He says, (vol. iv. p. 491,) 
that Washington, at a cabinet council, remarked, " That 
" rascal, Freneau, sent him three of his papers every day, as 
" if he thought he (Washington) would become the distri- 
" buter of his papers; that he could see in this, nothing but 
" an impudent design to insult him ; he ended in this high 
" tone." Again at a meeting, May 23, 1793, (vol. iv. p. 
485,) speaking of Washington, Mr. Jefferson says, " He ad- 
" verted to a piece in Freneau's paper of yesterday ; he said 
" he despised all their attacks on him personally, but that 
" there had never been an act of the government, not mean- 
" ing in the executive line only, but in any line, which that 
" paper had not abused. He was evidently sore and warm, 
" and I took his intention to be, that I should interpose in 
12* 



138 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" some way with Freneau, perhaps withdraw his appoint- 
" ment of translating clerk to my office. But I will not do 
" it. His paper has saved our constitution, which was gal- 
" loping fast into monarchy, and has been checked, by no 
" one means so powerfully as by that paper. It is well and 
" universally known, that it has been that paper, which has 
*' checked the career of the monocrats ; and the President, 
" not sensible of the designs of the party, has not with his 
" usual good sense, and sang froid, looked on the efforts and 
" effects of this free press, and seen, that though some bad 
" things have passed through it to the public, yet the good 
'' have preponderated immensely." 

Mr. Jefferson could elect to retain Freneau, and to pa- 
tronize his paper, and to approve of his abuse of Washing- 
ton ; biit that he could retain his place, and daily appear 
before Washington, and affect to be well-disposed towards 
him, and his administration, cannot be reconciled with the 
feelings and sentiments of any honorable man. Why f-uch 
a man as Washington, kept such a man as he knew Jeffer- 
son to be, near him, and in his counsels, can be accounted 
for only on the supposition, that Washington desired to 
sacrifice his own feelings, to what he may have considered 
to be the public good. Mr. Jefferson takes great pains to 
show, that Washington was exceedingly reluctant to have 
him retire, and kept him in office, against his own will, 
throughout the year 1793. This is very possible. There 
may have been good reasons for desiring to retain Mr. Jef- 
ferson, in the probable relation of the United States to 
France. We have Mr. Jefferson's version of the matter. 
A contradictory one could come only from Washington him- 
self. He knew that would never come ; for Washington is 
not supposed to have kept memoranda of his confidential 
intercourse for public inspection, nor, probably, even for his 
own. 

Mr. Jefferson is as little merciful to Washington, as to 
other men of whom he records his opinions. In page 467, 
of vol. iv., he remarks on Washington, who was then in his 
sixty-first year, that he was sensible of the decay of his 
hearing, of which no one is supposed to have heard but 
Mr. Jefferson. 

In page 455, (29th February, 1792,) when Washington 
was only sixty years old, Mr. Jefferson relates a conversa- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 139 

tion on Washington's retirement from office, in which the 
latter is reported to have said, " that lie really telt himself 
" growing old ; his bodily health less firm, his memory 
" always bad, becoming worse, and perhaps the other facul- 
" ties of his mind showing a decay to others, of which he 
" was not sensible himself, and that this apprehension par- 
" ticularly oppressed him." It may be that Washington 
selected Mr. Jefferson for this delicate and confidential com- 
munication. It is very unlike the supposed reserve, and 
habitual dignity of Washington ; and not reconcilable with 
his performance of the duties of his second term ; nor with 
his acceptance of the command of the army, six years after- 
wards. One is at a loss even to conjecture the motive for 
making this record, if it was not to depreciate Washington, 
which is obviously the motive in the following quotation : 

Page 512, " Rush," (Dr. Rush, of Philadelphia,) " ob- 
" serves, he never did say a word on the subject, in any of 
" his public papers, except in his valedictory letter to the 
" governors of the states, when he resigned his commission 
" in the army, wherein he speaks of ' the benign influence 
" of the Christian religion.' " 

" I know that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in 
" his secrets, and believed himself to be so, has often told 
" me, that General Washington believed no more of that 
" system than he did himself." That is, Morris admitted 
himself to be an infidel, and also knew that Washino-ton 
was an infidel ! 

In the same manner, Mr. Jefferson appears to have 
treasured up all the opinions imputed to George Cabot, 
Samuel Dexter, Christopher Gore, Robert G. Harper, Rufus 
King, John Jay, Harrison G. Otis, Timothy Pickering, John 
Lowell, and many other eminent men, for the apparent pur- 
pose of proving to posterity, that they were enemies of the 
institutions of their own country, and leagued together to 
introduce a monarchy. It is to be remembered that the 
recorded sayings and opinions came through two or more 
mouths, and that the principal informant was a man of 
whom Mr. Jefferson himself says, " he is too credulous of 
what he hears."* 

The fourth volume of Mr. Jefferson's works, abounds 

* Beckley, clerk of the House of Representatives. 



140 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

with these narrations, concerning the distinguished men of 
our country, for purposes which cannot be otherwise under- 
stood than as designed to make these men odious. Now 
Mr. Jefferson may have thought all this right, and becom- 
ing. But so many of these tales are so near akin to mere 
gossip, that it is surprising any gentleman could be disposed 
to hear them. More surprising that any gentleman should 
record them as truths. Lamentable, that they should have 
been destined to the eye of future generations, with the 
sanction of one who had held the highest offices in the gift 
of his countrymen. 



LETTER XXXV. 

June 9, 1833. 

The two points on which Mr. Jefferson appears to rely 
most, to prove the design of establishing a monarchy, and a 
corrupt one too, are the funding system, and the national 
hank. He considers, whenever he mentions the former, 
that the object was to create, in the two branches of the 
legislature, " treasury votes" enough to carry all the meas- 
ures of the administration ; and that these must always be 
measures which ought iiot to be carried. He considers, too, 
that every federalist who came into either branch, must 
have been corrupted by the funding system or bank, although 
not members when either was established. This is a very 
comprehensive denunciation ; and not Avorth answering at 
this day, if it were not to show the true character of Mr. 
Jefferson's credulity, or something worse. 

The best refutation may be, to mention the names of the 
majorities in both branches, who voted to provide for the 
public debt. If they were the corrupt men alluded to, they 
were not so avaricious as may be supposed ; and not so wise, 
as wicked, since no one was afterwards known to have 
changed his condition for the better, in consequence of his 
votes. 

The funding system was finally established in July, 1790. 
Those who voted for it in the Senate were : 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 141 

Butler, S. C. Morris, Penn. 

Dalton, Mass. Paterson, N. J. 

Elmer, N. J. - Schuyler, N. Y. 

Henry, Md. Strong, Mass. 

Johnson, Conn. Walker, Va. 

Izard, S. C. King, N. Y. 
Langdon, N. H. 

In the House of Representatives : 

Ames, Mass. Leonard, Mass. 

Benson, N. Y. Partridge, Mass. 

Boudinot, N. J. Schureman, N. J. 

Burke, S. C. Sedgwick, Mass. 

Cadwallader, Penn. Sherman, Conn. 

Carroll, Md. ' Silvester, N. Y. 

Clymer, Penn. Sinnickson, N. J. 

Fitzsimmons, Penn. W. Smith, S. C. 

Foster, N. H. Sturges, Conn. 

Gale, Md. Sunipter, S. C. 

Gerry, Mass. Thacher, Mass. 

Goodhue, Mass. Trumbull, Conn. 

Grout, Mass. Tucker, S. C. 

Huger, S. C. Vining, Va. 

Huntington, Conn. Wadsworth, Conn. 

Laurence, N. Y. White, Va. 

R. B. Lee, Va. Wynkoop, Penn. 

The following are among many similar notices of the pro- 
vision for the payment of the public debt, found in Mr. Jef- 
ferson's volumes. In page 446 of 4th volume : " Hamilton's 
" financial system had then passed. It had two objects : 
" 1st. As a puzzle to exclude popular understanding and 
" inquiry. 2d. As a machine for the corruption of the 
" legislature ; for he avowed the opinion, that man could be 
" governed by one of two motives only, force or interest. 
" Force, he observed, in this country, was out of the ques- 
" tion ; and the interest, therefore, of the members, must be 
" laid hold of, to keep the legislature in unison with the 
" executive. And with grief and shame it must be acknow- 
" ledged, that his machine w^as not without effect." 

Almost all the members of both Houses of Congress, who 
voted for the " funding system," were then sufficiently dis- 



142 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



linguished to be known throughout the United States. 
Every one who can remember as far back as thirty years, 
and who was attentive to public affair.s, must have been in- 
formed, (as to those in his own state, if not more exten- 
sively,) of the reputation of these men. Who among them 
may be selected as a corrupt speculator? Who among them 
may be supposed to have advocated a great political meas- 
ure, perfectly reconcilable with honor, justice, and duty in 
itself, for the purpose of enriching himself? Mr. Jefferson 
was among these men, from the 2"2d of March, 1790, to the 
31st of December, 1793- He had Beckley and Freneau, 
and many other skilful inquirers, and faithful reporters. 
Who would Mr. Jefferson have selected as a corrupt monar- 
chist, if in that space of time he had been called on to do 
so? Was there nothing in the future days of these men, 
and in the repeated marks of confidence, which were after- 
wards conferred, where they were best known, which 
might have corrected Mr. Jefferson's opinions, in the long 
lapse of time through which he lived? No, nothing. Among 
the last acts of his life, he carefully prepared his charges to 
go down to posterity, with his certificate that they were 
true. 

The same sort of record is made by Mr. JelTerson con- 
cerning the National Bank, which was created by the votes 
of nearly the same men. On the 2d of March, (vol. iv." 
p, 481,) Mr. Jefferson thus describes the majority of the 
House of Representatives : "1. Bank directors. 2. Hold- 
" ers of bank stock. 3. Stock-jobbers. 4. Blind devotees. 
" 5. Ignorant persons who did not comprehend them ;" 
(meaning Giles's resolutions, criminating Hamilton.) 
" 6. Lazy, good-humored persons, who comprehended and 
" acknowledged them, yet were too lazy to examine, or un- 
" willing to pronounce censure. The three first descrip- 
" tions, making one third of the House, and the three latter 
"one half of the residue." 

Now, did Mr. Jefferson really believe this, his own re- 
cord ? or did he record that which he believed to be untrue, 
to answer some purpose of his own ? If he really believed 
all that he states to be true, what must be thought of his 
understanding ? If he knew that he was stating that which 
was untrue, what must be thought of his heart ? 



ON Public characters. 143 



LETTER XXXVI. 



June 12, 1833. 

The subject of monarchy, as charged against the federal- 
ists as a party, is one on which Mr. Jefferson delights to 
dwell. The following are samples of the multitude of 
remarks to be found in his volumes : 

In vol. iii. p. 40:2 : " The X, Y, Z, fever has considerably 
" abated through the country, as I am informed, and the 
" alien and sedition laws are working hard. For my own 
" part, I consider those laws merely an experiment on the 
" American mind, to see how far it will bear an avowed 
'' violation of the constitution. If this goes down, we shall 
" immediately see another act of Congress attempted, de- 
" daring that the President shall continue in oflice during 
" life, reserving to another occasion the transfer of the suc- 
'' cession to his heirs, and the establishment of the Senate 
" for life." 

In vol. iv. p. 183 : " This government they (federalists) 
" wished to have established here, and only accepted and 
" held fast, at first, to the present constitution, as a step- 
" ping-stone t5 the final establishment of their favorite 
" model. This party has, therefore, always clung to Eng- 
" land, as their prototype and great auxiliary, in promoting 
" and effecting this change. A weighty minority of these 
" leaders, considering the voluntary conversion of our 
" o-overnment into a monarchy, as too distant, if not despe- 
" rate, wish to break off from our Union its eastern fragment, 
" as being, in fact, the hot-bed of American monarchism, 
" with a view to the commencement of their favorite govern- 
" ment ; from whence the other states may gangrene by de- 
" grees, and the whole- be thus finally brought to the desired 
" point." 

" At the head of this minority, is what is called the Es- 
" sex Junto of Massachusetts. But the majority of these 
" leaders do not aim at separation. In this they adhere to 
'' the known principles of General Hamilton, never under 
" any views, to break the Union. Anglomany, monarchy, 
" and separation, then, are the principles of the Essex fede- 
" ralists ; anglomany and monarchy, those of the Hamil- 



144 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" tonians ; and anglomany alone, that of the portion oi people 
" who call themselves federalists." (Letter to Mr. MelisJi, 
map-maker , January 19, 1813.) 

These are only some, of many similar remarks scattered 
through Mr. Jefferson's third and fourth volumes. 

The foregoing extracts, assume that almost immediately 
after the adoption of the national government, there was a 
party in New England, who designed to subvert that govern- 
ment, and dissolve the Union, or to convert that govern- 
ment into a monarchy. No persons are named.* It is a 
general denunciation of the federal party. There is no 
mode of meeting and refuting Mr. Jefferson, but by stating 
facts which cannot be denied ; and if these be utterly in- 
compatible with the supposed design, the design itself must 
be regarded as a mere calumny, chargeable on the per- 
verted state of Mr. Jefferson's mind, or on his own want of 
integrity. 

These are historical facts : The federal party labored, 
with all their might, to establish the national constitution. 
King, Gore, Strong, Lowell, Parsons, Hamilton, Jay, Pick- 
ering, Brooks, Sedgwick, and hundreds of such men who 
might be named, were among the most zealous advocates of 
the constitution. What were their motives? If they had 
any such purpose as Mr. Jefferson imputes to them, they 
could not have been the advocates of a regular system of 
government, which guaranteed to each and every state in the 
Union, the continuance of republican forms. The firm es- 
tablishment of such a government made the whole of the 
United States one community, from which no state could 
withdraw but by the consent of all. The whole physical 
force in states adhering to the confederacy, could be arrayed 
against any one which was disposed to depart from it. The 
federal party intended that this should be so ; and they did 
every thing that men could do to effect this object. "They 
discerned in the federal union the only security against ex- 
ternal foes, and internal faction ; and above all, secarity 
against the contentions, already becoming serious, between 
the states themselves. If these are unquestionable facts, 
how could the very men who thus laboured to establish this 

* This is the often repeated opinion of Mr. JefTerson, who says, in 
his Mazzei letter, " we must break these Lilliputian ties, with which 
" they have hound us," &c. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 145 

government, have intended at the same time, or within a 
few years afterwards, and while it was in the most satisfac- 
tory execution under the direction oi federalists , its dismem- 
berment and destruction ! One would think, that these 
men had every inducement, which can influence the human 
mind, to preserve the constitution, and to have it wisely 
administered. 

If they had desired to create a monarchical system, their 
course would have been to keep out of the Union, to have 
promoted anarchy and confusion, and to have made force 
necessary to preserve order ; and to have availed of that 
force to establish their dominion. They were to do this 
while the whole country was impoverished and distressed by 
the effects of the revolutionary war ; and when New Eng- 
land had almost exhausted its strength in repelling the ef- 
forts of royalty to establish a tyrannical power. These very 
men, whom Mr. Jefferson charges with the design of erecting 
a monarchy, through the means of interior commotion, 
were the foremost to suppress the rebellion in Massachusetts 
in 1786-7; and who were instructed by that occurrence, 
perhaps more than any other, in the necessity of a federal 
union. These are facts not to be denied ; and how do they* 
agree with Mr. Jefferson's calumnies ? 

As to the design of converting the national government 
into a monarchy, which Mr. Jefferson so often asserts, how 
were they to effect such a purpose 1 Mr. Jefferson admits 
that the people of the United States every where, except 
among leading federalists, were republican. Monarchy 
could be erected but in one of two modes, assent or force. 
Mr. Jefferson does not pretend that it could be done by 
assent. He says it could not ; and truly. The people of 
the United States had just effected their liberation from a 
monarchy. Were they, while the memory of their toils and 
sufferings was so fresh, to have submitted to the dominion of 
one of their own citizens, and have stood quiet or applaud- 
ing spectators to see him crowned? Were the federalists as 
silly as Mr. Jefferson thought them wicked ? Did not they 
know the state of public opinion, as well as he did? If one 
could suppose such an absurdity as Mr. Jefferson has caused 
to be published, who was to be the king ? Admit that 
every body was ready for a monarchy, and that the federal- 
ists had only to arrange their order of it, one had as much 
13 



146 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

pretension to wear the crown as another. They must have 
peaceably arranged among themselves, who should be mas- 
ters and who should be servants. A king would need 
dukes and lords to prop him up. Who were to be selected 
for such dignity, and who excluded ? Who but Thomas 
Jefferson would impute to men, who certainly had some 
claim to common sense, and who had done all they could to 
establish republican liberty, the project of a peaceable ar- 
rangement of a monarchy. 

Royalty by force, was a still more absurd project. The 
federalists must have had command of men and money. 
How were either to be obtained ? The federalists had no 
money, wherewith to maintain a military force ; and the 
people must have submitted to military exactions to have 
kept any force on foot, for a single week. Mr. Jefferson 
presumed too much on the credulity of his countrymen, 
in supposing that ihey would believe him ; or he had been 
spoiled in finding that his assertions had been so long re- 
ceived by them as truths. The more probable solution is, 
that Mr. Jefferson's readiness to believe what he had hoped 
was true, had convinced him that it was true. He some- 
where says, that an often as.serted falsehood, comes at length 
to be a truth in the mind of him who asserts it. 

Mr. Jefferson did no credit to his own book learning, of 
which he had a great deal, in assuming, that a republic can 
be converted into a monarchy, in either of the modes which 
he imputes to the federalists. He knew, or ought to have 
known, that republics have never changed into monarchies, 
but always into despotisms. He must have known that 
when despotism overwhelms this country, it will come by the 
usurpation of men, who can delude the multitude under the 
guise of being their friends. No man that has lived in the 
United States in the last fifty years, has done so much as 
Mr. Jefferson himself, to prepare the public mind for such 
usurpation. All the misrule which now afihcts this coun- 
trv, can be fairly traced to him. He may have been far 
enough, from any such design ; but the effect is a sorrowful 
fact, as a large proportion of the thinking men of the coun- 
try see with dismay. If there be, in the present chief ma- 
gistrate, indications of a desire to exercise an absolute 
authority, he proposes to do it, in virtue of being the popular 
favorite. As such, his friends sustain him. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 147 



LETTER XXXVII. 

JujvE 15, 1833. 

The JefFersonian dominion began in the United States 
on the 4th of March, 1801. The opponents of the federal 
constitution had, (by means well known, tliat is, by all 
manner of appeals to popular prejudice,) been gaining 
strength. The same means persevered in, would, in another 
four years, have given the administration to them. The 
experience of the last thirty years proves, that the majority 
of the American people can always be ruled by ihe'ir frioids. 
In other words, combinations of adroit men who want office, 
emolument, and distinction, and who consider all these to 
be only prizes to be gamed for, can always find the means 
of winning them. Those who have the principles and feel- 
ings of the founders of the government, by whatsoever name 
dintinguished, must content themselves with opposition to 
what they conscientiously believe to be destructive of the 
original purposes for which the government was instituted. 
This they must do, or prefer, as Mr. Jefferson says, " the 
" calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty," under 
very disagreeable masters. 

When the votes were counted, it appeared that Mr. Jef- 
ferson had seventy-three, Aaron Burr, seventy-three, John 
Adams, sixty-five, C. C. Pinckney, sixty-four. As the con- 
stitution then was, two persons were to be voted for, both 
of whom could not be resident in the state in which the vote 
was given. The highest number of votes, being a majority 
of all the votes cast, made the President ; the next highest, 
being a like majority, made the Vice President. Jefferson 
and Burr having an equal number, the choice devolved on 
the House of Representatives. Mr. Jefferson took care to 
have this " procedure corrected" by a change of the consti- 
tution before another election. The House vote, on such 
occasions, by states. If the number of representatives from 
a state was seven, a majority of this number constituted 
the vote of the state. If the number was equal, the vote of 
the state might be divided ; but by a regulation adopted by 
the House, the vote was not lost in case of division, but was 
counted ; though for neither party. From New Hampshire 



148 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



there were four ; from Massachusetts, fourteen; from Con- 
necticut, seven ; from Vermont, tivo ; from Rhode Island, 
two; from New York, ten; from New Jersey, ^ye ; from 
Pennsylvania, thirteen; from Delaware, one; from Mary- 
land, eight ; from Virginia, nineteen ; from North Carolina, 
ten; from Soutii Carolina, ^I'f; from Georgia, one; from 
Kentucky, two ; from Tennessee, one. Among the mem- 
bers spoken of, from personal observation, were Sedgwick, 
Thacher, Otis, Lincoln, Griswold, Dana, Goodrich, Smith, 
Champlin, all of New England. Jonas IMatt, New York ; 
Edward Livingston, New York; Gallatin, Pennsylvania; 
James A. Bayard, Delaware ; Samuel Smith, Maryland ; 
Henry Lee, Virginia ; John Randolph, Virginia ; Littleton 
W. Tazewell, Virginia ; N. Macon, North Carolina ; R. G. 
Harper, South Carolina ; Thomas Pinckney, South Caro- 
lina ; John Rutledge, South Carolina. 

The House voted, among other regulations, to attend to 
no business, but the election, while it was pending, and not 
to adjourn until an election was effected. The balloting 
began on Wednesday, the 11th of February, and continued 
until Tuesday, the 17th, at one o'clock ; recurring at longer 
or shorter intervals. In thirty-five ballotings, the vote stood 
eight for Thomas Jefferson, six for Aaron Burr, and two 
states were divided. On the thirty-sixth ballot, Jefferson 
had ten states ; Burr, four ; and two states gave a blank 
vote. The presence of every member during this extraor- 
dinary scene, which lasted seven days, was indispensable. 
Some of them were infirm or indisposed, and were accom- 
modated with beds or couches ; and one member was so 
indisposed as to be attended by his wife. The whole num- 
ber present was one hundred and four; of whom a majority 
were federalists, though there was not a federal majority of 
states. The election was decided by the votes of Vermont 
and Maryland. Lewis R. Morris is said to have withdrawn, 
leaving his colleague, the famous Matthew Lyon, (who was 
convicted of sedition,) to vote for Vermont. Four federalists, 
in Maryland, are said to have given blank votes, and the 
other four members from that state, to have voted for Jef^ 
ferson. 

These seven days of balloting were days of great excite- 
ment. Mr. Adams was there as President, contemplating 
the approach of his political annihilation. Mr. Jefferson 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 149 

was there, daily presiding in the Senate, in all the inquietude 
of success or defeat. Burr was at New York or Albany. 
The federalists, in the House, had a most painful and re- 
sponsible duty to perform ; that of choosing between two 
such men as Jefferson and Burr ! Among the rumors of 
the time was this : That the federalists could, and would, 
prevent any election, and would permit the balloting to go 
on till the 4th of March, and consider both offices (Presi- 
dent and Vice President) vacant, and leave to the President 
of the Senate to exercise the executive power. Another 
rumor was, that a law could be passed to vest in some 
person the executive power. It is not improbable that, 
from the abhorrence which some members may have felt of 
seeing Mr. Jefferson in the office of President, means were 
sjjokcn of adapted to prevent such a national misfortune- 
Doubtless the federalists would have done anything, which 
they believed to be constitutional and dutifid, to prevent it ; 
but no such propositions are supposed to have been discussed. 
The Jeffersonians insisted that the people meant Jefferson 
should be President, and that, if the House did not choose 
him, an armed force would go from the neighboring states 
to compel the House to choose him ; or, more probably, to 
choose him themselves. Mr. Jefferson says, in a letter under 
date of February 15, (1801) to James Monroe, while the 
election was pending, (vol. iii. 452,) " If they could have 
" been permitted to pass a law for putting the government 
" into the hands of an officer, they would certainly have 
" prevented an election. But we thought it best to declare, 
" one and all, openly and firmly, that the day such an act 
" passed, the middle states would arm ; and that no such 
" usurpation, even for a single day, should be submitted to. 
" This first shook them ; and they were completely alarmed 
" at the resource for which we declared, viz. to re-organize 
" the government, and to amend it. The very word con- 
" i^entioii gives them the horrors, as in the present democrati- 
" cal spirit of America, they fear they should lose some of 
" the favorite morsels of the constitution." One would have 
thought this a favorable time for the " monarchists" to have 
made an attempt to set up a king. The government would 
have come to a natural and easy dissolution, by refusing to 
elect a President, and no better chance of scrambling for 
royalty could ever be expected. 
13* 



150 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Mr. Jefferson says that he was frequently asked, during 
this time, to promise that he would not do certain acts which 
the federalists feared he would do ; that is, that he would 
preserve certain features of federal policy. He sai/s he 
answered that he would not go into office with his hands 
tied. It must be admitted that he acted with some firmness 
(if the fact was so) in refusing, what proved to be for him 
a croion (as he says) " on capitulation." Among other 
rumors was this : Hamilton is said to have been consulted ; 
and that he was of opinion that it was better to choose Jef- 
ferson than Burr. He seems to have had an abhorrence of 
Burr, and to have believed it safer to trust to Jefferson's 
characteristic timidity than to Burr's insatiable ambition. 
It was as embarrassing a question as could be proposed to 
an honorable and patriotic mind, which of these two men 
might do the most mischief! It might have made a favor- 
able difference to this country if Burr had been preferred, 
whatever Burr may have been since that day: and, cer- 
tainly, all the difference of life and death, to Hamilton him- 
self 

This election of President (in February, 1801, by the 
House of Representatives) is sufficiently interesting to be 
further noticed, for two reasons ; first, to present a true 
account of the federal party in the House, whose adversaries 
attributed to them very reprehensible designs and attempts ; 
secondly, to show the true character of Mr. Jefferson's 
" Anas," and records. Both these objects will be accom- 
plished by the perusal of evidence contained in the Appen- 
dix. This evidence was published in the National Gazette, 
(Philadelphia,) January 1, 1830, by Richard H. Bayard, 
and James A. Bayard, sons of a gentleman of the latter 
name, in refutation of two of Mr. Jefferson's statements. 
This is an instance, in which it was deemed a duty to a 
deceased parent, to inquire into the truth of Mr. Jefferson's 
assertions. It will be seen, by the perusal of that evidence, 
Ihat Mr. Jefferson is plainly in error. Being proved to be 
so, in this case, a strong presumption arises, that if the truth 
of his statements, in other cases, could be tested in like 
manner, they would be found to be equally erroneous. 

James A. Bayard, the gentleman whom Mr. Jefferson 
mentions so improperly, was a descendant of the Chevalier 
Bayard, who died in 1524 ; and who is familiarly known 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 151 

as the man (sans peur et sans reproche) without fear and 
without reproach. In a letter written by Mr. Bayard in 
1801, and which will be found in the Appendix, ho says, 
" I shall never lose sight of the motto of the great original 
" of our name." This gentleman was an eminent lawyer 
in the state of Delaware. He was in both branches of 
Congress, and was second to no one in either branch. He 
was one of the envoys who made the treaty of peace at 
Ghent in 1814. He was a tall,' well proportioned, erect 
man, of light complexion, light hair, of handsome face, 
intelligent and manly expression, and of courteous and dig- 
nified manners. He was one, of whom it might be truly 
said, that nature, education, mind, heart, and habit, had 
combined to make a gentleman. His eloquence was lofty 
and commanding. He had, eminently, the first of its 
requisites, sinccritij, and certainty that he loas right. It 
was such a man, that Thomas Jefferson would declare, even 
from his own tomb, to be a political knave. 

The two passages complained of by Mr. Bayard's sons are 
the following. The first of them will be found in vol. iv. 
p. 515. 

" February 12, 1801. Edward Livingston tells me, that 
" Bayard applied to-day, or last night, to General Smith, and 
" represenied to him the expediency of his coming over to 
" the states who vote for Burr ; that there was nothing in 
" the way of appointment which he might not command, 
" and particularly mentioned the Secretaryship of the Navy. 
" Smith asked him if he was authorized to make the offer. 
" He said he was authorized. Smith told this to Living- 
" ston, and to W. C. Nicholas, who confirms it to me. 
" Bayard, in like manner, tempted Livingston, not by offer- 
" ing any particular office, but by representing to him his, 
" Livingston's, intimacy and connexion with Burr ; that 
" from him he had every thing to expect, if he would come 
" over to him. To Dr. Linn, of New Jersey, they have 
" offered the government of New Jersey. See a paragraph 
" in Martin's Baltimore paper, of February 10, signed ' A 
" Looker-on,' stating an intimacy between Harper and Burr." 

Mr. Jefferson begins in page 520 of the 4th volume, 
under date of April 15, 1806, the record of an interview 
with Burr, which occurred, he says, about a month before, 
in which Burr (then Ex-Vice President) appears to have 



152 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

intimated that an office would be agreeable to him. Mr. 
Jefferson says that he said to Burr, " that if we believed a 
" few newspapers, it might be supposed he had lost public 
" confidence, but that / hnew hoio easy it was to engage 
" neiospapers in any thing " " That as to any harm he 
" could do me, I knew no cause why he should desire it ; 
" but at the same time I feared no injury which any man 
" could do me ; that I had never done a single act, or been 
" concerned in any transaction, which I feared to have fxdly 
" laid open, or which could do me any hurt, if truly stated." 

He then adds, (same page) " I did not commit these things 
" to icriting at the time, but I do it now, because in a suit 
" between him, [Burr] and Cheetham, he has had a deposi- 
" tion of Mr. Bayard taken, which has no relation to the 
" suit, nor to any other object than to calumniate me. Bay- 
" ard pretends to have addressed to me, during the pending 
" of the presidential election, in February, 1801, through 
" General Samuel Smith, certain conditions on which my 
" election might be obtained ; and that General Smith, 
" after conversing with me, gave answers for me. This is 
" absolutely false. No proposition of any kind was ever 
" jnade to me on that occasion, by General Smith, nor any 
" answer authorized by me ; and this fact General Smith 
" affirms cd this moment." 

Now, so it is, that Mr. Bayard was one of the six persons 
in the House of Representatives, on whom the election of 
Mr. Jefferson depended ; either of whom could have decided 
the election ; and that Bayard had less repugnance to the 
election of Mr. Jefferson than to that of Mr. Burr ; and 
that he could, at any balloting, have settled the question by 
his vote ; and was resolved that there should be an election. 
It also happens, that on the same day when Mr. Jefferson 
made his record. General Smith, a personal and politi- 
cal friend of Mr. Jefferson, was engaged in giving his 
deposition in a case, in which he declares, that he 
undertook, being a resident in the same house with Mr. 
Jefferson, to inquire into his policy concerning commerce, 
the navy, and the funding system ; that he did inquire of Mr. 
Jefferson, and did report his answers ; and that the election 
was thereupon made. He and Mr. Bayard both testify, that 
no proposition was made to either of them, nor by either of 
them, to promote Burr's election. Mr. Bayard says, that 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 153 

at this time he had no peneonal acquaintance with Burr ; 
and that lie knew not of any effort made by Burr, to pro- 
mote his own election ; that no means to that end were 
taken, among the members, but argument and persuasion, 
founded on the belief, that it would be less disastrous to the 
country to elect Burr, than to elect Jefferson. It is further- 
more -a. fact, that General Smith, on the floor of the Senate 
denied that Mr. Jefferson had recorded truths ; and 
a.noi\\ex fact that Mr. Livingston stated, also, on the floor of 
the Senate, that he remembered no such truths, as Mr. 
Jefferson had recorded concerning himself 

If Mr. Jefferson could so write, on facts which must have 
been within his own knowledge, and adapted to be strongly 
impressed on his memory, it casts a deep shade over his 
" tells me " assertions, and over his hearsay records, receiv- 
ed from persons, who had, probably, learned how to gratify 
his sense of hearing. * 



LETTER XXXVIII. 

June 23, 1833. 

The election of Mr. Jefferson was regarded with strongly 
contrasted feelings, by the two great parties of the United 
States. He had not been a prominent object of attention, 
while in retirement, between his resignation of the ofiice of 
Secretary, and his Vice Presidency. While in the latter 
ofiice, he was only a presiding officer, and had no call to ex- 
press his opinions, publicly. As soon as it was ascertained 
that he, or Burr, must be the President, it became highly in- 

* The evidence collected by the sons of Mr. Bayard to vindicate the 
honorable fame of their father, against the calutiinies of Mr. Jefferson, 
consists of two depositions given by Mr. Bayard, in cases of libel 
which arose out of the election of February, 1801 ; and of a deposition 
of Samuel Smith, in one of those cases; — also of letters from mem- 
bers of Congress, who were present at that election. This evidence 
is accompanied by some very becoming commentaries from Mr. Bay- 
ard's sons, and was made public January 1, 1830, through the Na- 
tional Gazette, (Philadelphia) in consequence of Colonel Hayne's 
(South Carolina) having introduced Mr. Jefferson's record ot facts, 
in a debate in the Senate. This evidence is historically important. 



154 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

teresting, to both parties, to investigate his character, and 
his political propensities. He was portrayed according to 
the perceptions of the two parties, and presented in striking 
colors. 

By the one party, he was represented, as the early advo- 
cate of religious iieedoni, and of the rights of man ; the 
great apostle oi liberty ; the friend of our excellent ally, 
France ; the determined foe of British influence ; the re- 
former of constitutional errors ; a sage, a philosopher, a true 
patriot, and genuine republican. 

By the other, — as a man destitute of the commonly 
received moral principles ; and one who entertained no 
respect for the acknowledged foundation of all moral prin- 
ciple ; the devoted admirer, and blind apologist of one 
foreign nation, and the uncompromising enemy of another ; 
nor less an enemy to the men who had conducted the govern- 
ment for the first twelve years, and to all their measures ; 
nor only so, he was declared to be hostile to the constitution 
itself, and would exercise the powers which it vested in him, 
to gratify one portion of his fellow citizens, and humble the 
other ; that he would not be the dignified head of a great 
republic, but an intolerant party chieftain ; that his learn- 
ing had been used to break down and remove, rather than 
to uphold and preserve, the landmarks by which the virtuous 
and intelligent had, for ages, bounded social welfare. 

How far from the truth these parties respectively were, it 
is certainly of some importance to know. How near that 
posterity, to Avhich Mr. Jefferson appeals, will come to the 
truth, cannot be foreseen. It is probable that the obscurity 
which time throws over motives and acts, and the generali- 
zation which is all that the limits of common history permits, 
will prevent a true estimate of Mr. Jefferson's merits and 
faults, among those of future days. Time will also diminish 
the interest which will be felt in this gentleman's real char- 
acter, and he will, probably, be known only as one who held 
the first station in his country ; and that certain prominent 
events occurred in his time ; but ichy did they occur, will 
interest very iew. 

This is not so, with those who are now living. Mr. Jef- 
ferson has made it highly interesting to them to know his 
true character, and the meaning and consequences of his 
policy. If it be true, as many suppose it to be, that he was 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 155 

the original cause of the dangerous theories and practice, 
which now threaten to destroy the security and happiness of 
the American people : if he was tlie author of tiiat perver- 
sion of our institutions, intended for common welfare of the 
whole, to the exclusive use and benefit of a few ; if he was 
the creator of that destroyer of all republics, party, the well 
known precursor of despotism ; if his political acts, and his 
private writings, now given to the world with the sanction 
of his own name, prove, that all or any of these suppositions 
may be true, — surely, all of the present day are interested 
to inquire, and to decide. 

Taking his public messages, and other official documents, 
as the true index of his purposes as a public officer ; and 
then taking the contents of his own volumes as the true 
interpreter of his true meaning in all things, which he did 
as an officer, as a citizen, and as a man, we may arrive at 
demonstration. 

It will, on such authority, appear, that from the 22d of 
March, 1790, to the 4th of March, 1801, Mr. Jefferson had 
three great purposes always in view, and that he spared no 
exertion to accomplish them : 1. The aggrandizement of 
France. 2. The destruction of England. 3. The demoli- 
tion of federalists, as a party ; and the expatriation of the 
citizens who were of that party. 

It will also appear, that the means taken to accomplish his 
objects, would be considered, in any other man, to be sub- 
versive of the honor and independence of his own country ; 
a perversion of its institutions; unjust in motive ; oppressive 
and demoralizing, in effect. But Mr. Jefferson is singularly 
privileged from all imputations of base or unworthy motives, 
in any case. He has undertaken to be responsible for his 
own honesty. If it must be admitted that he was honest, 
that is, that he really saw himself, his fellow-citizens, his 
country, and its institutions, as he represents himself to have 
seen them, he has proved his honesty at the expense of 
respect for his intelligence, and of esteem for his heart. 
If it were any other man, one might venture to say that he 
thought anything right, which he thought expedient ; and 
that anything was expedient, as to object and means, which 
would accomplish his own ends. 

When Mr. Jefferson became President, the people had 
deliberately established a national form of government, as 



156 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

accurately defined as could be done by human wisdom. It 
had received a practical construction during twelve years, 
by very able men, and whom history will honor as wise, 
virtuous, and patriotic. Fallible, they may have been, and 
may have erred, under high party excitements, and in 
opposing those whom they regarded as dangerous partisans, 
whether these were deluded, or dishonest. 

The JetFersonian party, of the last thirty years, have never 
amended the system which the first twelve years established. 
They have often departed from it, and perverted it ; but in 
their pressing necessities have always returned to it, and 
relied upon it. That system contemplated and provided for 
the national security and independence, by a sound credit, 
by reasonable means of defence, by honorable and prudent 
policy, as to all other nations. At home, it meant to secure, 
and did secure, tranquillity, the reasonable protection of 
domestic industry, gradual internal improvement, a sound 
currency, and unrestrained exercise of every power to ac- 
quire and enjoy, so far as the policy, rightfully adopted by 
foreign nations, would allow. This system left, to state 
sovereignty, its legitimate sphere of action, uncontrolled. 
As the guardian and protector of all these rights, privileges, 
and enjoyments, it provided a learned and independent judi- 
ciary, capable of restraining the plain excess of legislative 
and executive action in national affairs ; and of state sove- 
reignty, whenever this should happen to exercise power, 
which the people had clearly vested in the sovereignty of the 
nation. 

At the time when Mr. Jefferson came in, the United 
States were prosperous under that system. The relations 
with all foreign nations (except two on the coast of Barbary) 
were pacific ; and with most of them, friendly. The public 
debt was insignificant, compared with national means. At 
home, excepting the factious temper, (which Mr. Jefferson 
had done much to encourage,) all was well ; and never had 
any man a fairer opportunity to secure to himself an honora- 
ble fame, and to transmit his memory, to distant days as 
one of the worthiest of rulers our country had known. There 
was reason to expect that the party who had hoped nothing, 
but had feared every thing from him, might have been un- 
justifiably prejudiced. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 157 



LETTER XXXIX. 

Jui«rE 27, 1133. 

In his inaugural speech, Mr. Jefferson soothed the serious 
apprehensions which were entertained, as to the manner in 
which he might exercise executive power. " Let us reflect," 
says he, " that hav'ing banished from our land that relio-ious 
" intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suf- 
" fared, we have yet gained little, if we countenance an 
" intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter 
" and bloody persecutions." " Every ditTerence of opinion 
" is not a difference of principle. We have called by dif- 
" ferent names brethren of the same principles. IVe are 
" all rcpubUcans, all federalists.'" " If there be any amono- 
" us, who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to chancre 
" its republican form, let them stand undisturbed, as monu- 
" ments of the safety with which error of opinion may be 
" tolerated, when reason is left free to combat it." From 
these declarations there was good reason to hope, that Mr. 
Jefferson intended to be the President of the United States, 
and not the chief of an intolerant and vindictive party. 
Afflicted as the federalists may have been at seeino- the exec- 
utive power pass into his hands, they would have cheerfully 
sustained him in the exercise of it, if that exercise of power 
had been even in conformity with his own declarations. 
On the contrary, Mr. Jefferson .did all he could to subvert 
every measure which the federal party had adopted, and to 
obliterate every trace of their administration. 

Whatever may be thought of the personal deportment of 
the two first Presidents, as essential to the maintenance and 
dignity of their stations, and to secure themselves from in- 
terruptions, and from the loss of time necessary in the dis- 
charge of public duties, it could not be agreeable to the 
nation, to see the abolition of all official dignity. This it 
was Mr. Jefferson's pleasure to do. He had no appropriate 
hours for visiting. He was accessible by any one, almost 
at any hour, and descended, at once, to the lowest level. 
To this example may be traced the scenes which are noticed 
at this day, in the abode of the President, and which mortify 
14 



158 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

our own community, and furnish a subject of ridicule to 
European travellers. 

The first contrast between Mr. Jefferson's inaugural 
declarations and his intended acts occurred early in 1801. 
Elizur Goodrich had been appointed collector of New 
Haven by Mr. Adams. In June he was removed, without 
any suggestion of incompetency, as to talents or integrity, 
and a partisan, by the name of Samuel Bishop, was appoint- 
ed. This drew irom the merchants and most respectable 
men of tliat city a calm remonstrance, in which they assert 
Goodrich's promptness, integrity, and ability ; and add, that 
these were qualities not to be found in Bishop. They also 
assert, that Bishop was nearly seventy-eight years of age, 
and so infirm as scarcely to be able to write his own name ; 
that he was unacquainted with revenue laws, or mercantile 
business, or even with the most simple forms of accounting. 
To this remonstrance Mr. Jefferson made an answer, on 
the r2th of July, in which he says, among other things : 
" Declarations by myself in favor of political tolerance, 
" exhortations to harmony and affection in social intercourse, 
" and respect for the equal rights of the minority have, on 
" certain occasions, been quoted and misconstrued into as- 
" surances, that the tenure of offices was not to be disturbed. 
" But could candor apply such a construction?" 

It was thus manifested what Mr. Jefferson's construction 
of assurances would be, and what his acts would be, 
throughout his administration. 

In the memorable debate which arose on Mr. Jefferson'.s 
proposal to abolish the Courts, (House of Rep. Feb. 1802,) 
Mr. Giles's speech disclosed the hostility which the Jefferso- 
nians entertained towards all federal measures from the first 
institution of the government. Mr. Bayard, in his masterly 
reply to Mr. Giles, states what the executive policy had al- 
ready shown itself to be in dismissing worthy officers, and 
in appointing mere partisans. Mr. B. said : " If the eyes 
" of the gentleman are delighted whh victims, — if objects 
" of misery are grateful to his feelings, — let me turn his 
" view from the walks of the Judges to the track of the 
" present executive. It is in this path that we see the real 
" victims of stern, uncharitable, unrelenting power. It is 
" here we see the soldier who fought the battles of the revo- 
" lution, who spilt his blood, and devoted his strength to 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 159 

" establisli the independence of his country, deprived of the 
" reward of his services, and left to pine in penury and 
" wretchedness. It is along this path that you may see 
" helpless children crying for bread, and gray hairs sinking 
" in sorrow to the grave ! It is here, that no innocence, no 
" merit, no truth, no services can save the unhappy sectary, 
" who does not believe in the creed of those in power." 

That which the people of the United States ought to re- 
gard with abhorrence, in a President, is the implied in- 
vitation given by Mr. Jefferson to all political adversaries, 
to abandon their creeds and adopt his own ; and the clearly 
implied promise of reward for apostacy. This was a well- 
known mode of strengthening party, long before there were 
white Americans. Mr. Jefferson has the distinction of 
having introduced it into our republic. He carried it to its 
full extent, officially and privately. In no nation, no, not 
even in Rome, in its most corrupt days, has this demoraliz- 
ing seduction been niore effective than in our own land, 
since Mr. Jefferson became President. 

Opinions, long entertained, as to men and measures, and 
as to creeds in religion, are sometimes honestly and honor- 
ably abandoned, and opposite ones adopted. But a change 
cannot be honest or honorable, where there is no new fact, 
nor any reason for viewing facts, before admitted, in any 
new light. Surely no change can be so, where the sudden 
convert realizes benefits, not to be had without apostacy. 

The distinction between parties was so marked in Mr. 
Jefferson's time, that there could be no half-way change. 
The convert could do nothing short of what is done by a 
deserter from an army. Those who went over to Jefferson- 
ism had the only merit of being ashamed of their desertion. 
To cover this, and to prove their sincerity, they resorted to 
the bitterest condemnation of their former principles and 
associates. The most malignant libellers of federal men 
and of federal measures were those who had been federal- 
ists themselves. Sustained by the salaries of office, and 
raised by titles above those they had deserted, they could 
clearly see how base, plotting, and traitorous some of their 
fellow citizens were, with whom, but yesterday, they were 
proud to rank, and most zealous to uphold as worthy pat- 
riots. Trace such men through to the end, and how has it 
fared with them ? By adroit and timely desertions they 



160 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

may have found, for a while, office and emolument. But, 
how is it with them, when they come to the searching ques- 
tion. What do my fellow men think of me ? A Caesar, an 
Augustus, a Napoleon cannot evade this question. The 
long list of dishonest deserters, which could be furnished, 
would show, that few, in the revolutionary action of party, 
secured the good they sought ; and that all of them planted 
a thorn in conscience, which never withers, nor ceases to 
prick. This was one of the practical uses of Mr. Jeffer- 
son's " exhortation to harmony and affection in social in- 
" tercourse." 

There were instances of departure from the federal side, 
distinguishable from such as have been mentioned, and 
which did not deserve reproach. There were timid men, 
w'ho did not entirely approve of federal views of the national 
policy ; others, who thought themselves not to have been 
sufficiently valued and respected by their federal associates ; 
and some, who were by nature and inclination Jeftersonians, 
and who originally mistook their side, and very properly 
went over where they belonged. When one leaves the true 
line, circumstances force him further and further from it, 
and he must go over to the adversary, finally, as there is no 
intermediate tenure. But in all cases of such change of 
opinion, there seems to have been a feeling, not unlike that 
in political changes, at the present day. One, who goes 
over from the opposition to the Jackson ranks, feels that he 
has a defence to make ; while one who abandons Jackson- 
ism holds his head up, and feels that he has done an act for 
which he may respect himself Thus in politics, as in 
morals, there is a sense of right and wrong, which men are 
alive to, whether they admit its influence or not. There 
are few Jackson men in the United States, (who can pre- 
tend to good sense and sound principle,) who do not feel 
a degree of shame that they are such. 

It is the disease of republics, that they give life and action 
to craving, knavish pretenders to integrity and patriotism. 
They are the humble servants of any power that has any- 
thing to bestow. They are incompetent to gaining their 
daily bread in any of the industrious orders of social life ; 
and must, therefore, be where they can catch the droppings 
of the treasury. Political chcvaliri-s cVindustrie, they are 
ready to profess and to do anything that promises gain and 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 161 

power. But, such patriots must keep careful reckonings, and 
make accurate observations. They change their course once 
too soon or too late, and blunder ; and then all eyes are 
turned to the course which they have run. The wreck that 
follows has no one's sympathy or compassion. They learn, 
too late, that honesty is the best policy no less in political, 
than in common affairs. There is rarely a Talbyrand 
among them. There is one hope for such men; that is — 
if the republic can be converted into despotism, while thev 
happen to be in favor, they may acquire a stability of position 
in supporting a tyranny, which will support them. 

My. Jefferson's followers have already made some improve- 
ments on his theories. They have advanced now to the 
point, that the President, no, the man, who has been imposed 
upon the nation to hold that office, is " The Government." 
The laws, Congress, the judiciary, the constitution, are all 
nothing ; the man is every thing. How far are we from a 
political Augustan age? 

From the"4th of March, 1801, to the 7th of December, 
when Congress met, ]\Ir. Jefferson had ample time to con- 
sider and determine, in what manner he would carry his 
ioill into effect, so far as legislative aid was thereto indis- 
pensable. He lost no time in disclosing, though with his 
accustomed plausibility, that all the fears which his op- 
ponents had entertained as to his policy, foreign and domes- 
tic, were to become realities ; and that all his dreaded 
purposes were to be enforced, in the full vigor of official 
power. 

It was common, thirty years ago, to charge Mr. Jefferson 
with deliberate wickedness in his office : and to consider 
him as intending to disregard all the obligations which hon- 
orable, moral men acknowledge. This was, probably, an 
injustice. It is more reasonable to suppose, that he had 
either a singular obliquity of perception, as to right and 
wrong, both as a man and as an officer ; br, that he had 
undergone some strange perversion from that rank of moral 
agents, to which he was, by nature, destined. His adver- 
saries made no such apologies for him. They believed that 
he did wrong, knowing that it Avas wrong, and because he 
meant to do w^rong. Accordingly they portrayed him in 
the public prints, at full length. Some of his friends had 
the indiscretion to introduce some of these sketches to the 
14* 



162 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

notice of the House of Representatives in JMassachusetts, at 
the session in January, 1805. The newspaper, in which 
the commentaries alluded to appeared, was published by the 
printers of the House. The object of the motion was to 
have the printers dismissed. It did not succeed. If these 
delineations of Mr. Jefferson were to go down as authentic 
proofs of the character of the man, he would fare but indif- 
ferently with that cool judgment of posterity, to which he 
confidently appeals. It is not intended to revive these 
personal criminations. Whether the assertions, so made, 
were mere calumnies, or truths, modified as they may 
have been, is immaterial to the present American public. 
His official conduct is most material, not only to the com- 
munity of this day; but it is to be feared, that it may be 
so to every community, which is hereafter to arise in our 
country. 



LETTER XL. 

June 30, 1833. 

Mr. Jefferson's opinions on the Judiciary were among 
the most mischievous of any which he entertained. He had 
a rooted dislike to courts ; particularly to those which were 
established at the recommendation of his friend, John 
Adams, as barriers against such encroachments as Mr. Jef- 
ferson was supposed to intend. These courts were not 
only constitutionally indtpendent, but the judges, who had 
been placed therein, were nearly all fedn-alists. 

If there be anything, which is capable of sustaining popu- 
lar governments, and keeping their action within legitimate 
constitutional boundaries, it is a learned, self-respecting, 
independent judiciary. To make the administration of 
justice, and all questions on the excess of power, dependent 
on popular excitement, is to assume, that mere human pas- 
sion is the best arbiter of right and wrong. On this subject, 
Mr. Jefferson entertained and dissemninated the most ex- 
ceptionable doctrines. This seems to have been his theory : 
The people are the sovereign ; zcJi at soever they will is the 
law ; they choose me to declare their will. My icill is the 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 163 

law ; because the people's loill can he no otherwise disclosed 
than by expressing my oion. lie seems to have been inca- 
pable of conceiving, that the people established judicial 
courts to control all of their own number, who should violate 
their own laws ; and to control their own legislators, if they 
exceeded the limits of authority which the people had as- 
signed to them by the constitution. Much less could he 
conceive, that courts could bind him to do, or could prevent 
his doing whatsoever he thought right. This was not tur- 
pitude in him, but inability to distinguish between right and 
wrong, as to the exercise of judicial power. 

Whether this view of Mr. Jefferson is a correct one or 
not, may be judged of by the following extracts from his 
volumes. How many much stronger expressions may have 
been found therein, if his editor had thought fit to publish 
all of them, can only be conjectured. 

" The principal of them (federal leaders) have retreated 
" into the judiciary, as a strong hold, the tenure of which 
" renders it difficult to dislodge them." (Letter to Joel 
Barlow, March 14, 1801, vol. iii. p. 458.) 

" The courts being so decidedly fedcrcd, and irremov- 
" able, it is believed that republican attorneys and marshals, 
*' being the doors of entrance into the courts, are indispen- 
" sably necessary as a shield to the republican part of our 
" fellow-citizens, which, I believe, is the main body of the 
" people." (Letter to W. B. Giles, March 23, 1801, vol. 
iii. p. 464.) 

The celebrated Luther Martin was counsel for Burr. Mr. 
Jefferson frequently wrote to George Hay, conductor of the 
prosecution, during the trial. In a letter (June 19, 1807, 
vol. iv. p. 87,) he says : " Shall ice move to commit Luther 
" Martin, as particeps criminis with Burr ? Graybell will 
" fix upon him misprision of treason at least ; and, at any 
" rate, his evidence will put down this unprincipled and 
" impudent federal hull-dog, and add another proof, that 
" the most clamorous defenders of Burr are all his accom- 
" plices." 

This is a picture of Thomas Jefferson, drawn by himself, 
and presented to the world by one of his own family ! Ob- 
serve, that it is the chief executive officer of the United 
States, interposing in a judicial trial, to deprive the accused 
of counsel, who had no more to do with the crimes charged 
upon Burr, than Jefferson had. 



164 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps 
" of sappers and miners, constantly working under ground, 
" to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. 
" They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination 
" of a general and special government, to a general and 
" supreme one. This will lay all things at their feet ; and 
" they are too well versed in EngUsli law, to forget the 
" maxim, boni judicis est ampliare jiirisdictionem . We shall 
" see if they are bold enough to make the stride their five 
" lawyers have lately taken. If they do, then with the 
" editor of our book, in his address to the public, I will say, 
" ' that against this every man should raise his voice ; ' and 
"more, should lift his arm."* [Letter to T. Ritchie, De- 
ccmhir, 1820, vol. iv. p. 330.) 

In 18IC, Mr. Jefferson appears to have been asked for an 
opinion, in a contemplated amendment of the Virginia con- 
stitution. He says, (vol. iv. p. 288,) " It has been thought 
" the people are not competent electors of judges learned in 
" the law, but I do not know that this is true ; and \i douht- 
" full we should follow the principle. In this, as in many 
" other elections, they would be guided by reputation, which 
" would not err oftener, perhaps, than the present mode of 
" appointment." In page 289, he sums up his theories : 
" 1. General suffrage. 2. Equal representation in the legis- 
" lature. 3. An executive chosen by the people. 4. Judges 
" elective or amovahlc. 5. Justices, jurors, and sheriffs 
*' elective." 

These were opinions on the judiciary, not to be wondered 
at in a man, who thought a rebellion, once in twenty years, 
a useful political occurrence. Such, however, were his 
opinions, after an experience in political life, prolonged 
through half a century. It has already been noticed, that 
when he had come into office, he assumed to pronounce 
laws, constitutionally enacted, and which had been pro- 
nounced by the highest judicial tribunal to be laws, abso- 
lutely void, because they had not his approbation. Mr. Jef- 
ferson was as much bound by laws which he disliked, as by 
any other laws, which he had sworn to execute. Thus, it 
was his opinion, that an act of the two branches of Congress, 



* It is not recollected what Mr. Jefferson here refers to ; either as to 
" five lawyei-s " or as to " our book." 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 105 

approved by the President, and decided by the Supreme 
Court to be constitutional, could be defeated by one man, 
who happened to be raised to the executive power. 



LETTER XLI. 

July 7, 1833. 

When Congress met in December, 1801, Mr. Jefferson's 
message, (for he chose to depart from the federal practice of 
going to meet Congress, and making a sjwee/i, and because 
a speech may be ansicord, and a message cannot,) suggested 
a revision of all federal measures, and an abroaatlon of 
them, so far as they were within congressional reach. This 
was done in his own plausil)le manner. He had a subser- 
vient Congress, who needed only to know what he thought 
was right, to think it so themselves. He suggested the 
repeal of taxes, the reduction of the diplomatic corps, the 
hauling up of the navy, the abolition of offices, and revision 
of the judiciary system. The last suggestion was intended 
to get at John Adams's " midnight judges" in their " strong 
hold." He says in his message, that he had sent into every 
state to inquire into the whole number of causes tried, since 
the institution of the national government, and should 
submit the result of his inquiries ; as though the niatibcr 
of suits was the measure of utility and necessity of the 
existing organization. In this session a bill was intro- 
duced to repeal the recent law re-organizing the courts. 

While this bill was under discussion, the highly respect- 
able professional gentlemen of Philadelpliia sent a memorial 
to Congress, in which they disclaimed all interference of a 
political nature, but begged leave to state facts within their 
own experience. Among other things they said : " That 
" under the former law the greatest inconveniences were 
" experienced by the court, the bar, and the suitors. That 
" the judges were constantly engaged in traversing the 
" states, with little opportunity for reflection or repose. 
" Judges presided in states, the laws, usages, and practices 
" of which were essentially different from those in which 
" they were educated ; and without adverting to the casual- 



166 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" ties of indisposition and weather, the inevitable consequen- 
" ces of the late system were embarrassment, uncertainty, 
" and delay." These gentlemen then go on to pronounce 
the highest eulogium on the new judges in their own circuit ; 
the increased confidence in this tribunal, &.C., " promises to 
" render the court an honor and a benefit to the nation." 
They conclude by declaring, that " the abolition of the 
" court will probably be attended with great public incon- 
" venience." This memorial was signed by thirty-seven 
persons, the first in age and eminence ; and among others 
by Joseph B. M'Kean and A. J. Dallas, well known as 
two devoted friends of Mr. Jefferson. 

In the debate on this bill, the two great champions were 
James A. Bayard and William B. Giles. The former 
maintained with eminent ability, that Congress had not the 
power to deprive the judges of their stations by the indirect 
course of repealing the law under which they were ap- 
pointed. But, the day of Jeffersonian dominion had come. 
The question of constitutionality and of expediency was 
insignificant, when opposed to the President's pleasure. The 
courts were abolished, and Mr. Jefferson had the gratifica- 
tion of signing a law, which expelled the. federal judges 
from their " strong hold," and of seeing them all reduced 
to the rank of private citizens. The real evil in this matter 
is, that an example was thus given of the facility with which 
the judiciary may be subjected to the will of a party ; this 
was in perfect accordance with Mr. Jefferson's notions of 
propriety. Some praise is due to Mr. Jefferson for not 
having demolished the Siqireme Court as well as the Circuit 
Courts, that he might have routed Chief Justice Marshall, 
as to whom his volumes contain no equivocal opinion. This 
he might have done as legally as that which w^as done. 

It cannot be too often brought to view, that the excellence 
of our government, in comparison with any ever before 
known, is that, while popular and elective, it has a power 
intended to control other branches, when they transcend 
their powers. Demolish this branch, and the union of the 
two others would make a more terrible despotism than any 
one man can exercise, because it would be despotism with 
all the force of law. We have already seen a near approach 
to this, as we shall have occasion to notice in considering 
the embargo laws. It is true that the sovereign people may 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 167 

arrest such a combination by the right of election. But 
such combination arises from perversion of public opinion, 
and holds its supremacy by relying on that perversion. 
In such case, the slow, though sure process of the judiciary 
is the only remedy. Is it not surprising, that a vigilant and 
jealous community should not so understand the meaning of 
its own deliberately adopted constitution ? Ought we not 
rather to wonder, that our nation has preserved its republican 
forms so long, when such a man as Mr. Jefferson, construing 
the constitution as he did, was so long the popular idol ? 
The power of party is fearfully illustrated by the fiict, that 
there are so many men in this country, and in high stations 
too, who cannot be ignorant of the destructive tendency of 
Mr. Jefferson's doctrines, who nevertheless quote them as 
authorities. 

Mr. Jefferson may not have intended to abolish the Su- 
preme Court; he does not appear to have attempted it. It 
is not known from his volumes, that he took any part in the 
effort to remove the judges of that court. In the memorable 
trial, presently to be mentioned, it is hot apparent from any- 
thing published, that he therein interested himself, excepting 
that he somewhere remarks, " the farce of impeachment 
" will not be tried again." But as Judge Chase was im- 
peached for his conduct in trying a citizen for the breach 
of a law, of which Mr. Jefferson had recommended a repeal ; 
and for his conduct in trying James Thompson Callender, 
(that man of science whom Mr. Jefferson befriended,) for 
the breach of a law which Mr. Jefferson adjudged to be un- 
constitutional and Aoid, it is probable, that the prosecution 
of Judge Chase had, at least, his entire approbation. If 
this magistrate could have been sacrificed, there would 
have been little difficulty in removing other obnoxious judges. 
Their seats would have been filled by men, who would have 
had an eye to executive pleasure, however they might have 
seemed to the people. This would have been better suited 
to Mr. Jefferson's purpose, than an abolition of the court, 
which he cannot be supposed to have desired. 

The trial of Judge Chase is one of the most remarkable 
events in the history of our country, whether considered in 
relation to the accused, to the character of the accusation, 
the members of the court before which the trial was had, or 
the motives and labors of those who conducted the defence : 



168 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

remarkable, indeed, that the person who presided at the 
trial (Burr) was then under indictment for murder, and was 
two years afterwards prosecuted by Mr. Jefferson, and 
arraigned and tried on the charge of treason : but not 
remarkable that Mr. Jefferson hoped to make out a suffi- 
cient cause for impeaching the presiding judge, at the 
latter trial. 

Samuel Chase was born in Maryland. He was at the 
head of the patriot party in that state, during the revolu- 
tionary days. He was a signer of the declaration of inde- 
pendence. But he was a federalist. At the time of the 
trial on impeachment before the Senate, he was nearly sixty- 
four years old, and much impaired in bodily strength. In 
his full vigor, he was a man of herculean frame and vigorous 
mind ; a learned and honest man no doubt, but not of cour- 
teous manners on the bench. 

In preparation for the expected hostilities with France, 
in Mr. Adams's time, a law passed in July, 1798, for a val- 
uation of houses, lands, and slaves ; and in the same month, 
another act was passed, for assessing a direct tax, in con- 
formity to such valuation. In February and March follow- 
ing, an insurrection occurred in the western part of Penn- 
sylvania, to resist the execution of these laws. Among the 
insurgents was John Fries. This man was tried before 
Judge Paterson, in April following, at Philadelphia. The 
fact of resisting the execution of the law was clearly proved. 
The defence was : " to resist by force of arms a particular 
" law of the United States does not amount to ' levying 
" war ' against the United States, within the true meaning 
" of the constitution, and therefore is not treason, but a riot 
" only." Judge Paterson and Judge Peters, (district Judge,) 
held such resistance to be treason. A new trial was had, 
not on account of erroneous opinion on the law; but be- 
cause a juror had expressed, before he was sworn on the 
trial, an opinion unfavorable to the accused. In April, 
1800, Fries was again tried. Before the trial, Judge Chase 
put his opinion of the law in writing ; which was in con- 
formity with that of Judge Paterson. This opinion he 
caused to be copied, one copy for the counsel of Fries, one 
for the attorney for the United States, and one was intended 
to be given to the jury when they retired, and to be carried 
out by them and used in their deliberations in finding a 
verdict. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 169 

When Fries was brought in for trial, and before the jury 
were sworn, the judge informed his counsel that he had put 
this opinion in writing, to show what the meaning of" levy- 
ing war," according to the constitution, was understood by 
the court to be. Mr. Lewis and Mr. Dallas, counsel for 
Fries, notwithstanding Judge Chase informed them, that 
they would be permitted to offer arguments to the court, to 
show thorn that they were mistaken in the law, said, that 
they did not any longer consider themselves as counsel for 
the prisoner. The prisoner was asked whether the court 
should appoint other counsel ; and he declined having any. 
The trill proceeded without counsel. Fries having challeng- 
ed thirty-four jurors. He was convicted, and sentenced, 
and afterwards pardoned by President Adams. This trans- 
action WIS one ground of impeachment. 

The trial of J. T. Callender occurred in the month of 
May, 1S39, at Richmond. The ground of impeachment, in 
-this case, was the alleged illegal and oppressive conduct of 
the judge. The charges against Callender were for expres- 
sions in his " Prospect before Us," concerning John Adams, 
some of which have been noticed in a former page.* A 
minute examination would require more space than this 
subject is now worth. The impeachment was drawn up, in 
relation to this trial, with extreme particularity, and with all 
the bitterness of malignant party spirit. 



LETTER XLII. 

July 10, 1S33. 

In January, 1894, John Randolph, jr. moved the impeach- 
ment against Judge Chase, which was carried about two to 
one ; but it was not prosecuted until the following session, 
in November. On the 2d of January, 1805, Judge Chase 
appeared before the Senate, and the 4th of February was 
assigned for his trial. The Senate Chamber was fitted up 
in an appropriate manner, and with places for various official 



* See page 111. 

15 



170 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

dignitaries. The accused appeared with Luther Martin, 
R. G. Harper, and Joseph Hopkinson, as his counsel. The 
managers, on the part of the House, were Messrs. Randolph, 
Rodney, Nicholson, Clark, Campbell, Boyle, and Early. 
The pleas and answer took nearly four hours in the read- 
ing ; the Judge read the introductory part, Mr. Harper then 
read more than an hour, Mr. Hopkinson continued the 
reading two hours, and the accused read the concluding 
part, in the most solemn and impressive manner. This 
able and eloquent answer was in itself a complete refutation 
of the criminality of the charges. The prosecution was not 
considered, at the time, to have been so ably as malignantly 
conducted, so far as party feeling was involved. But the 
counsel of Judge Chase did themselves the highest honor, 
as lawyers, as men of kind feelings, as gentlemen, and as 
orators. Mr. Hopkinson, though then a young man, acquir- 
ed for himself an exalted reputation. The two other coun- 
sel had long been of established fame. The trial lasted until 
the first of March, when the Judge was acquitted. The 
whole number of Senators was thirty-four. Two thirds of 
the whole must have concurred in a conviction. To what 
extent it was merely a political experiment may be judged of 
by the answer to the question. Is the accused guilty, or not 
guilty? There were eight distinct charges. The federal- 
ists, viz. — Mr. J. Q. Adams* Mass. ; Mr. Bayard, Del. ; 
Mr. Bradley, Vt. ; Mr. Dayton, N. J.; Mr. Hillhouse, 
Conn. ; Mr. Mitchell, N. Y. ; Mr. Olcott, Vt. ; Mr. Picker- 
ing, Mass. ; Mr. Plumcr, N. H. ; Mr. Smith, Va. ; Mr. 
Smith, N. Y. ; Mr. Smith, Ohio ; Mr. Tracy, Conn. ; Mr. 
White, Del.; — voted not guilty, on all the charges; so 
also did Mr. Gaillard, S. C, who is not supposed to have 
been a federalist. Those who answered that Judge Chase 
was guilty, on some of the charges, and who are supposed 
to have been all Jeffersonians, were the following : Messrs. 
Anderson, Baldwin, Brackenridge, Brown, Cocke, Condit, 
Ellery, Franklin, Giles, Howland, Jackson, Logan, Maclay, 
Moore, Samuel Smith, Stone, Sumpter, Worthington, 
Wright. The answers of the latter class were very much 
varied ; no one considered the accused as guilty on all the 

* This trial occurred before Mr. Adams had changed his opinions as 
to the federal party. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 171 

charges. So this experiment to subject the judiciary to the 
executive and legislative departments failed in this instance, 
if such was the design. 

This trial may be considered under different aspects. 
The President, the judges, and other civil othcers may be 
guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, in their official 
stations, aiid some provision must exist for their removal 
and disqualification to hold office in future. This provision 
may be righteously, or oppressively carried into effect. To 
what end it was applied, in this instance, all may judge 
from the circumstances of the case, and from the temper of 
the prosecution. 

The acts, charged as crimes, were done nearly five yeara 
before the trial, and during the federal administration. The 
accusation was made in a House of Representatives, of 
which two thirds of its members were there, because they 
were opponents of that administration. The accusation was 
to be heard and tried in a tribunal, a large majority of whose 
members were of the same political cast. There was an ex- 
pectation, that the accused could not escape a judgment of 
condemnation. It is a disheartening truth, that, in the best 
of governments which men have invented, the malignity of 
passion may assume all the attributes of impartial justice ; 
and that the promptings of personal hostility may infuse a 
spirit into a body of men, which impels them to do, in their 
official stations, such acts as each one of them alone would 
be ashamed to do. That which is still more disheartening 
is, that, as this country grows older, and as its population 
increases, and its parties become more and more embittered, 
those who submit, through ignorance or fraud, to the influ- 
ence of party delusion, will avail themselves of the constitu- 
tional machinery, to remove and to crush political adversa- 
ries. In all such painful forebodings, it is impossible to free 
one's self from the belief, that Mr. Jefferson, whether he so 
intended to do or not, has, by his example and his opinions, 
done more than any other man to mislead and pervert his 
fellow citizens. His theories of social union and govern- 
ment were irrational and impracticable. He substituted 
mere popular impulse, which cunning men can make to be 
what they will, for the enlightened and honest application of 
abstract rules. Popular election, really intended to be the 
protective power which the people have reserved to them- 



172 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

selves, was converted by him into the dangerous engine, by 
which the people tliemsclves may be enslaved, and made to 
rejoice in their own chains, since it is their own act which 
puts them on. There are numerous instances in prooi'that 
this may be so. To say nothing of events in the decline of 
the Roman republic, there are proofs enough in the recent 
history of France. At this day, the President of the United 
States is sustained in his views of constitutional power by 
the popular will. That will is none other than his own. It 
makes no difference, whether a majority stand ready to ratify 
and applaud all that a president calls right, or whether the 
popular will is created by such means as Mr. Jefferson was 
supposed to have organized, and to have bequeathed to his 
countrymen, as his mode of" hringing hack the constitution 
" to its original principles." 



LETTER XLIII. 

September 3, 1833. 

The great achievement of Mr. Jefferson's first four years 
was the purchase of Louisiana. This country had belonged, 
in early days, to the French, whence its name. It was after- 
wards ceded to Spain, with the Floridas ; thus there was a 
territory, which stretched across the Mississippi, and extend- 
ed southwardly to the ocean, in the possession of a foreign 
power. In Washington's time, (October 2*th, l'<95,) a 
treaty was made with Spain, whereby this right was secured : 
" His Catholic majesty will permit the citizens of the United 
" States, for the space of three years from this time, to de- 
" posit their merchandise and effects in the port of New 
" Orleans, and export them from thence, without paying any 
" other duty than a fair price for the hire of stores ; and his 
" majesty either promises to continue this permission, &-c., 
" or if he should not agree to continue it there, he will as- 
" sign to them, on another part of the banks of the Missis- 
" sippi, an equivalent establishment." 

In the same year, 1795, a treaty, offensive and defensive, 
had been made between France and Spain. In 1801 and 
1802, the Spaniards, under the influence of France, com- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 173 

mitted the most offensive aggressions, wherever they came 
in contact with American shipping, or citizens. They 
captured and carried into their ports more than 130 Ameri- 
can vessels ; seized and imprisoned the American consul at 
a port in the island of Cuba ; and as early as October, 1802, 
Morales, Intendant of Louisiana, gave notice, that American 
citizens would no longer be permitted to deposit their goods 
at New Orleans ; nor was any " equivalent establishment " 
assigned. These wrongs, on the part of Spain, were well 
known to Mr. Jefferson long before the meeting of Congress 
in December of this year, 1802. But the message was 
entirely silent concerning all Spanish aggressions. In 
January, 1803, the House of Representatives called on the 
■executive for information, and the fact of the interruption 
of the right of deposit was communicated ; and, at the 
same time, a secret message was sent, and debated with 
closed doors. This message is too long to be copied, and is 
not worth the labor. It shows only the sort of policy pur- 
sued by Mr. Jefferson, which must be apparent on many 
other occasions. 

On demanding of Spain to redress this wrong, and to com- 
ply with the treaty stipulation, the American minister was 
informed, that Louisiana had been ceded to France. Mr. 
Jefferson then undertook, without consulting Congress, to 
purchase Louisiana of France, for fifteen millions of dollars ; 
and to incorporate its inhabitants with those of the United 
States. The people of that country were a mixture of 
Spaniards and Frenchmen, in number about two hundred 
and fifty thousand. The time taken for this measure was 
during the peace of Amiens, as it was called, which lasted 
from ^March, 1802, to the ITth of May, 1803. The pur- 
chase was concluded in April, 1803. On the 13th of 
March Napoleon announced, at an audience of foreign min- 
isters, the approaching rupture with England. 

This was a perilous and extraordinary assumption of 
power ; and was most seriously condemned, on principle, by 
all the opponents of the administration. Mr. Jefferson ad- 
mitted, that he had no constitutional right to make this pur- 
chase. It was said, at the time, that one object was to aid 
France ; the other to escape the responsibility of asserting 
the rights of the United States by force. 
15* 



174 FAMIUAR LETTERS 

The federal party were reproached for their opposition to 
this wise measure ; but if the subject be viewed as it then 
appeared, they were clearly right. 1. The title of France 
was contingent. The treaty of Spain and France provided, 
that if the Duke of Parma, son-in-law of the King of Spain, 
were made King of Etruria, that within six months after- 
wards, Louisiana should be ceded to France. Of course 
the title was to he made. 2. The boundaries of Louisiana 
were left undefined, furnishing thereby a cause of future 
contentions. 3. The promise of a title was fraudulently 
obtained from Spain, by the ministry of Godoy, whose acts 
Spaiji might, at some future day, disavow. 4. The French 
subjects of Louisiana could, and would, probably, have 
made any treatment of them by the United States a suffi- 
cient claim to the interposition of Bonaparte to protect them. 
5. The patronage acquired by the President over this terri- 
tory was little short of a royal authority. G. There was 
a provision, that the inhabitants of Louisiana should be 
citizens of the United States. It would have required an 
amendment of the constitution to make them such, which 
amendment was never made, nor proposed. 7. Louisiana 
was then not in possession of France, but of Spain ; and 
the treaty of purchase itself provides, that a French com- 
missioner should go out to receive possession from the 
Spanish officers, and make a delivery to the United States. 
These (and many more objections might be stated) were 
very sufficient grounds to the opposition, to say nothing of 
the price, alleged bribery, and hurry of the transaction. 
At the time of signing the treaty, it was well known that 
war between France and England was inevitable, that the 
bargain must be forthwith made, or that the opportunity of 
favoring France would be lost. Within twenty days hostili- 
ties were renewed. 

This diplomatic operation has proved to be far more ad- 
vantageous to the United States, than there was any ground 
even to hope for, thirty years ago. The fears, then enter- 
tained, have disappeared in the changes which have occurred 
in the power, and in the probable designs both of France 
and Spain, in relation to this country. And also, that what- 
ever Mr. Jefferson's motives may have been, and however 
assuming, to make this purchase, it was certainly better to 
have made it, and in whole, than to have had either a 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 175 

Spanish or French colony, on the banks of the Mississippi. 
Thus, Mr. Jefferson was so fortunate as to find, that an act 
which would have called for an impeachment under some 
circumstances, is now regarded as the most meritorious of 
his public life. It will be seen, hereafter, how well founded 
the apprehensions of Mr. Jefferson's opponents were. With 
respect to the sum, (fifteen millions,) it was probably thrice 
as much as needed to have been given ; because Bonaparte 
knew, at the time of the purchase, that on renewal of the 
war the whole country of Louisiana would be taken posses- 
sion of by the British ; and would consequently be lost both 
to France and Spain. 

Mr. Jefferson's merits in this purchase are not to be esti- 
mated by the subsequent turn of affairs in Europe, as to 
France and Spain, which no one foresaw or imagined ; and 
least of all men should Mr. Jefferson applaud himself, since 
he wished and believed, that Bonaparte would subdue Eng- 
land, in?tead of being subdued and exiled himself If Mr. 
Jefferson's ardent wishes had been realized, the people of 
the United States would have regretted the expenditure of 
their millions, which would have become necessary in de- 
fence against the man to whom they were given. In fact, 
this brilliant achievement was a humiliating, degrading 
policy in itself, and should be the least of all Mr. Jefferson's 
claims to an honorable fame, notwithstanding it has proved, 
so far as can now be discerned, a useful measure, excepting 
in the amount which it cost. 

The worshippers of Mr. Jefferson, (see July No. 1834, 
of North American Review,) vaunt of the purchase of 
Louisiana, as though Mr. Jefferson foresaw, and intended 
to provide for the existence of a great commercial city on 
the banks of the Mississippi. Mr. Jefferson's opinions on 
commerce and cities are better ascertained, than any others 
which he had. It is assertion in the face of Mr. Jefferson's 
own declarations, that he wished to promote any of the 
benefits which have arisen from this purchase. The evi- 
dence is irresistible, that he was governed by that policy 
which characterizes timid and irresolute men, who are al- 
ways among the bravest, where there is no danger. He 
seems to have wished to have Napoleon successful, and yet 
to have dreaded the consequences of that success. He wish- 
ed to have England conquered, yet feared the " Republican 



176 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Emperor" would not stop at that conquest. He relieved 
himself by giving whatsoever the Emperor demanded.* 



LETTER XLIV. 

September 7, 1833. 

Amono the best legislative acts of John Adams's presi- 
dency, was the law for regulating the admission of aliens to 
citizenship. It is not enough that this country opens its 
ports to all men, wheresoever born, and howsoever educated ; 
and whetlier educated or not ; and secures to them protec- 
tion of person and property? Is it right and just, relatively 
to our own citizens, to confer on aliens an equal share in 
the sovereignty, after a short residence, whether such aliens 
do, or do not know anything of the institutions of this 
country ? Whether Mr. Jefferson considered the restrictive 
provisions of the recent law inexpedient in themselves ; or 
whetlier he included that law in his general condemnation 
of all federal measures, merely because they were such, is 

* " And what is to be our security, (hat when embarked for her 
(England) in the war, she will not make a separate peace and leave us 
in the lurch ? Her good faith ! The faith of a nation of merchaivts ! 
The Punica fides of modem Carthage ! " (Jefferson to Governor John 
Langdon, [who was himself a merchant,] vol. iv. p. 14f).) 

"And have our commercial citizens merited from their country the 
encountering another war to protect their gambling enterprises ? " 
(Jefferson to John Adams, June 10, 1815, vol. iv. p. 262.) 

" The proportion, which the aggregate of other classes of citizens 
bears, in any state, to that of its husbandmen, is the proportion of its 
unsound to its healthy parts ; and is a good enough barometer, whereby 
to measure its degree of corruption." 

" The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure 
government, as sores do to the strength of the human body." (Jeffer- 
son's Notes on Virginia, p. 240, 241.) 

" Our commercial dashers, then, have already cost us so many thou- 
sand lives, so many millions of dollars more than their persons and all 
their commerce were worth." (Jefferson to W. H. Crawford, June 20, 
l3l6, vol. iv. p. 284.) 

" A republican emperor, /rom his affection to republics, independent 
of motives of expediency, must grant to us the Cyclops' boon of being 
the last devoured." (Jefferson to Langdon, March 5, 1810, vol. iv. 
p. 145.) 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 177 

doubtful. If the former, his policy was erroneous ; if the 
latter, it was only characteristic. No country but the United 
States ever adopted (it is believed) such a policy. Its 
operation in some of the maritime cities is felt to be a seri- 
ous evil, whatever it may be in the new states. Even the 
latter have derived no benefit from it, compared with its 
disadvantages. Impolitic as it may be, it is one of the evils 
which Mr. Jefferson has sanctioned ; and there is little hope 
now, that it will ever be removed, by returning to the wise 
provisions of the law of which Mr. Jefferson recommended 
the repeal. As the law is now construed, any alien who 
makes a previous declaration of two years' standing, in cer- 
tain courts, of intention to become a citizen, may become 
such, with some ceremonies easily accomplished. 

In proposing the repeal of the naturalization law, as it 
had been recently amended, as a federal measure, Mr. Jef- 
ferson in his message of December, 18(J2, uses these words : 
" I cannot omit recommending a revisal of the laws on 
' the subject of naturalization. Considering the ordinary 
' chances of human life, a denial of citizenship under a resi- 
' dence of fourteen years, is a denial to a great proportion 
' of those who ask for it ; and controls a policy pursued from 
' their first settlement, by many of these states, and still be- 
' lieved of consequence to their posterity. And shall we 
' refuse to the unhappy fugitives from distress that hospi- 
' tality, which the savages of the wilderness extended to our 
' fathers arriving in this land 1 Shall oppressed humanity 
' find no asylum on this globe? The constitution, indeed, 
' has wisely provided that, for admission to certain offices 
' of im])ortant trust, a residence shall be required sufficient 
' to develope character and design. But might not the gen- 
' eral character and capabilities of a citizen be safely com- 
' municated to every one mrinifesting a bond fifh purpose of 
'embarking his life and fortunes permanently with us? 
' With restrictions, perhaps, to guard against the fraudulent 
' usurpation of our flag ; an abuse which brings so much 
' embarrassment and loss on the genuine citizen, and so 
' much danger to the nation of being involved in war, that 
' no endeavor should be spared to detect and suppress it." 

This is a genuine Jeffersonian paragraph. Is it to be 
most admired for its clearness in communicating the writer's 
thoughts ; for its elegance of expression ; for its sound 



178 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

policy ; for its paternal care of the American flag ; or for its 
wise precaution in keeping the nation from war, to protect 
aliens? Every benefit, that Mr. Jefferson desired for aliens, 
they had, as tlie law was when this message was sent, except 
the right of voting and of holding real estate. Alienage is 
not a bar to purcliasing, and holding, and alienating real 
estate ; tliough it is to transmitting it to heirs. In some 
states, aliens may hold real property for all purposes for which 
a native citizen may hold it. Mr. Jefferson must have de- 
sired, therefore, principally to vest in them the right of suf- 
frage, which is a very interesting point to native citizens, 
considering the great number of foreigners " arriving in this 
land." There have been some arguments against such a 
policy ; and among others, these : 

" It is for the happiness of those united in society to har- 
" monize, as much as possible, in matters which they must 
" of necessity transact together. Civil government being 
" for the sole object of forming societies, its administration 
" must be conducted by common consent. Every species 
" of government has its specific principles. Ours are more 
" peculiar, perhaps, than those of any other in the universe. 
" It is a composition of the freest principles of the English 
" constitution, with others derived from natural right and 
*' natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed 
" than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet from such 
" we are to expect the greatest niimber of emigrants. They 
" will bring with them the principles of the government they 
" leave, imbibed in their early youth ; or, if able to throw 
" them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licen- 
" tiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. 
" It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the 
" point of temperate liberty. In proportion to their num- 
" bers, they will share with us the legislation. Suppose 
" twenty millions of republican Americans thrown all of a 
" sudden into France, what would be the condition of that 
" kingdom ? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less 
" strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million 
" of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a 
" similar effect here." 

This is Mr. Jefferson's own argument, taken from his 
" Notes on Virginia," pages 125, 126 Probably it was 
enough to change his views, that the recent naturalization 



ON PUDLIC CHARACTERS. 179 

law had been made by federalists. If not, sufficient reasons 
may be found in the policy, disclosed in his administra- 
tion, with respect to England ; and plainly discernible in 
his message on naturalization. 

While it is readily admitted, that every department of 
industry, the bar, diplomacy, legislation, and even the bench, 
has had ornaments of transatlantic origin, which are honor- 
able to the country, yet the most expansive philanthropy 
cannot embrace all the human beings which Europe throws 
forth, to the extent of conferring on them, (almost at the 
moment of arrival,) a participation in political sovereignty. It 
is right to give to a stranger kindness and hospitality, as long 
as he is worthy of them ; but it is the excess of folly to allow 
him an equal voice in the government of the family, and a 
claim to share the inheritance in common with its members. 
If Mr. Jetferson had done no other ill-advised act, than thus 
throwing open the avenue to citizenship, it would be enough 
to deprive him of all consideration as a far-sighted, patriotic 
statesman. 

If there could be a discrimination between such aliens as 
would understand and value our institutions, and those who 
cannot, or who do understand only to pervert them, natural- 
ization might be useful both to aliens and the country. 
There can be but one rule for all ; and the country is in no 
such want of population as to apply that rule to its own in- 
jury. It may happen that some good citizens are excluded 
by such a rule as that adopted in Mr. Adams's time, but this 
weighs nothing against the evil of indiscriminate admission.* 



LETTER XLV. 

September 11, 1833. 
A NAVY is indispensable to a commercial country, and to 
no one more than to the United States. It now has the un- 

* The majority of the city of New York, it is said, indicates the 
majority of the state ; and this, the majority of the nation. What 
would have been the majority in that city, for years past, if Thomas 
Jefferson had not asked of Congress to repeal the law made in John 
Adams's time ? And what connexion had this matter with the elec- 
tion of Andrew Jackson ? 



180 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

qualified confidence and respect of the whole nation. Wash- 
ington beg in it, in fact, whoever may contend for the honor 
of originating the establishment. In Mr. Adams's time, it 
attained to some celebrity, and was growing in respect and 
confidence. What sort of a navy was it? Snch as other 
commercial nations have established and ever must establish, 
to meet the naval force of any other country. It consisted of 
sliips, well armed, officered, manned, and disciplined. One 
of the earliest built ships is still the pride of the nation 
(" Old Ironsides"). Now what did the economical and 
philosophic Mr. Jefferson think it best for this commercial 
country to do with this infant navy? He recommended its 
reduction, and would, prt)bably, have been glad to see it 
annihilated. There is no way of knowing from what Mr. 
Jefferson said what he really intended, so far as his " mes- 
sages" expressed his meaning. When he came into power, 
there were fiiteen frigates and twelve smaller ships. The 
former were immediately reduced to nine and the latter to 
two. Instead of such vessels of war as other maritime 
nations h ive, he substituted a quantity of gun-boats, which 
were fit f )r notliing but to destroy the lives of those who at- 
tempted to navigate them. A small boat with one great 
gun mounted on its bow, was well adapted to roll over in a 
heavy sei ; and so it proved, on actual experiment, and Mr, 
Jefferson's gun-boats have long been abandoned ; and even 
he seems to have been convinced of the folly of the inven- 
tion. He says himself, " This species of naval armament 
" can have little effect towards protecting our commerce in 
" the open seas, even upon our own coasts." This was an 
unexpected concession, and could have been drawn forth 
only by the truth, reluctantly admitted, that fifty such boats 
were so many egg-shells against a fifty-gun ship. In the 
" open sea" they were useless, and if good for anything any 
where, it could only be in shallow water, where no enemy's 
vessel could come. 

Then as to the economy of this armament. , It appears 
from the official report of Mr. P. Hamilton, Secretary of the 
Treasury, soon after Mr. Madison came to the presidency; 
That the frigate President of 56 guns, cost f 22 1,000 
Fifty-six gun-boats, would cost 496,000 

Annual expense of a 56 gun-frigate 120,000 

Annual expense of oG gun-boats 655,200 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 181 

Balance against gun-boats 535,200 

Each gun in a frigate is supposed to be main- 
tained at an annual expense of 2,142 
Each gun, in a gun-boat, at an annual cost of 11,700 
This gun-boat scheme is a fair illustration of the utility 
and economy of Mr. Jefferson's administration. This sort 
of" armament," if such it can be called, seems to have been 
authorized by act of Congress in 1S03. Mr. Jefferson kept 
it up during his presidency. It disappeared soon after his 
retirement. 

It is not distinctly remembered, after the lapse of nearly 
thirty years, how Mr. Jefferson's eulogists considered this 
exploit of the gun-boats ; nor whether they a|)plauded Mr. 
Jefferson for his ingenuity in devising means for conquering 
the enemies of the country, or of defending it against their 
attempts at conquest ; nor whether they applauded him for 
his tenderness in guarding the money taken from " the 
mouth of labor;" or only for his philosophy. But this is 
remembered, that among those who were of his party it was 
always certain, that a federal President could not do right, 
and that Mr. Jefferson could not do wronji. 



LETTER XLVI. 

September 15, 1833. 

Louisiana having been purchased, a question soon arose 
as to boundaries ; no other description being given in the 
treaty, than that the territory purchased was that which 
France held before Spain acquired it. Mr. Jefferson con- 
sidered this to mean an extent of country eastwardly from 
the Mississippi to the bay of Perdido. Spain, then holding 
Florida, insisted that the limit was the river Iberville; thus 
cutting off about 30,000 square miles. This disputed terri- 
tory had already been made a collection district by act of 
Congress. When Spain denied the claim of the United 
States and forcibly expelled American citizens from this 
territory, Bonaparte was applied to for an explanation. He 
answered that France had no right beyond the Iberville, and, 
consequently, could not mean to sell any. Spain, displeased 
16 



182 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

with the cession to the United States, refused to treat, insist- 
ing that the Iberville was the boundary. While affairs were 
in this condition, two remarkable events occurred, the Mi- 
randa expedition and the beginning of Burr's proceedings 
in the west. Both these aff"airs are very extraordinary in 
their details, but cannot be followed out in these sketches, 
further than may be necessary to show the character of Mr. 
Jefferson's administration. 

Miranda was the grandson of the governor of Caraccas. 
He was in France in the early part of the revolution, and 
went through a variety of fortune, as a military officer in the 
French service, and as a persecuted individual, as successive 
factions arose. In 1806, he devoted himself to emancipate 
South America ; and knowing of the hostile spirit which 
had arisen between Spain and the United States, he came 
hither in the hope of advancing his project. He openly fitted 
out and armed a ship called the Leander, in the port of 
New York. Several Americans having, or supposing they 
had the assent, or approbation of the government of the 
United States, aided Miranda in this expedition ; and a 
number of young men of respectable connexions embarked 
on board the Leander, and departed with Miranda, all which 
was supposed to be well known at Washington, as no secret 
was made of the purpose of Miranda. 

The following is copied from a volume, entitled " Me- 
moirs of Thomas Jefferson." Whether the facts therein 
stated are true, or not, must be judged of from other facts 
which are not disputable. Miranda, " in December, 1805, 
" went to Washington, where he had an interview with Mr. 
" Madison, the Secretary of State, and laid before him and 
" the President a plan of an expedition against the Caraccas. 
" He showed them letters from friends in that country, which 
" went to prove, at least, the great probability of success ; 
" and unfolded to them a plan of the government, which he 
" meant to establish in those provinces. The President 
" attentively perused and considered the plan ; kept it 
" twenty-four hours, and then returned it to the General, 
" (Miranda,) with expressions of much approbation. Mi- 
" randa urged the co-operation of the American government. 
" Mr. Madison replied, that Congress did not approve of 
" going to war with Spain. Miranda replied, that though 
" government should not be disposed to aid him, he would 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 183 

" carry the plan into execution himself, provided they would 
" not interfere with his preparations ; to which the Secretary 
" made answer, that provided Miranda proceeded with 
" proper precaution, so as not to commit them, the govern- 
" ment would shut their eyes upon the matter. With this 
" assurance Miranda returned to New York to make pre- 
" parations." 

There is some probability of the truth of this account 
from the fact, that Colonel William S. Smith, son-in-law to 
John Adams, was made acquainted with the design, and 
permitted his son, William Steuben Smith, to accompany 
Miranda. Mr. Samuel G. Ogden furnished Miranda with 
the ship Leander, to proceed to the town of Caraccas, and 
to land him there, or as near thereto, as might be. Miranda 
carried out 180 men, large quantities of military stores, two 
printing presses, and a number of journeymen printers. All 
this was conducted so openly, as to be a subject of common 
conversation. The ship was regularly cleared at the cus- 
tom-house, and remained several days afterwards in port, 
to increase the number of men. AH this, with the excep- 
tion of Miranda himself and, perhaps, a very few others, was 
American. The Leander sailed early in 1806. 

On the 1st of March, 1806, Colonel Smith gjid Mr. Og- 
den were arrested on a warrant of Judge Tallmadge, and 
being brought before him, each was informed, that he was 
called on to give evidence against the other. Questions 
were propounded, and these gentlemen were threatened 
with imprisonment, if they did not answer. Finding this 
consequence inevitable, they made and signed a written de- 
claration of what they knew. A most remarkable prosecu- 
tion was carried on against these two men by a Jeffersonian 
judge ; all of which may now be seen of record ; but when 
it came to the opinion of a jury, they were honorably acquit- 
ted. One would like to know what Mr. Jefferson and Mr. 
Madison had to do with this prosecution ; what motives they 
had for countenancing this expedition of the Leander up to 
the hour of her departure ; and then turning upon Smith 
and Ogden, to sacrifice them in the forms of a judicial pro- 
cess. May it not have been for two purposes : first, to have 
all the mischief done to Spain, which Miranda contemplated ; 
and, secondly, to exculpate themselves, if Spain, or France 
should complain ? If such were the motives, what name 



184 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

should be given to such statesmen ? The end of this expe- 
dition was unfortunate enough for those who engaged in it. 
They were taken, and most of them ended tlieir lives in 
Spanish dungeons. The gallant and accomplished Miranda 
was sent to Spain, and confined in the dungeons of the in- 
quisition at Cadiz, where he died at the end of four years. 
He was called " the earliest martyr of freedom in Spanish 
America." 

As to " Burr's conspiracy," this unfortunate man, on 
leaving the vice-presidency, in 180.5, became a wanderer. 
He appeared in the western states, in the course of that 
year ; and theie attempted to carry into effect some designs, 
but precisely of what character is not certain. It may be, 
that he calculated on a war with Spain, and intended to ad- 
vance his own interests under the supposed approbation of 
the administration, as Miranda did. It may be, that he in- 
tended to possess himself of Mexico ; or, perhaps, to plunder 
New Orleans ; or to sever the Union, with the aid of Spain, 
and found a western empire; perhaps he intended, as a last 
resort, to effect a settlement of lands on the river Washita. 
His purposes do not appear to have been disclosed, so that 
they can be placed beyond conjecture. Whatever his plans 
may have been, it is certain, that Mr. Jefferson knew, as 
early as January, 1806, that Mr. Burr was in the western 
country, and had plans of some sort interesting to the Unit- 
ed States. 

Joseph Hamilton Daveiss, at this time attorney of the 
United States for the district of Kentucky, published a 
pamphlet to show what he did to detect Burr. His pamph- 
let gives copies of the letters which he wrote to Mr. Jeffer- 
son, in the months of January and February of that year. 
In these letters, Daveiss discloses a very intimate connexion 
between the celebrated General Wilkinson (Mr. Jefferson's 
military chief at New Orleans) and Mr. Burr. He also 
mentions, that two men of distinction in the western cotmtry 
were under an annual stipend to promote the views of Spain. 
It seems to have been intended by Spain to detach all the 
country west of the mountains from the United States, a 
very natural con.sequence of the purchase of Louisiana. 

The first letter of Daveiss is dated the 10th of January, 
180G. The first acknowledgment of it by Mr. Jeflerson is 
dated the 15th of February following. Although Mr. Da- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 185 

veiss appears to have devoted himself most faithfully to the 
investigation of the designs going on in the western coun- 
try, and wrote eight very circumstantial letters to Mr. Jef- 
ferson, the next communication from Mr. Jefferson was a 
short letter under date of September 12, 1806, merely 
acknowledging the receipt of Mr. Daveiss's disclosures. 
What motives Mr. Jefferson had for taking no part in 
defeating Mr. Burr's purposes at an earlier period, can only 
be conjectured. He might have intended to let Burr, like 
Miranda, do all the injury to Spain, which he could do, and, 
in his own time, to disavow these acts, and to have the 
gratification of punishing a man, who had dared to be a 
competitor with him for the presidency. 

It appears, that towards the close of 1806, Colonel Burr 
did engage in some expedition to proceed down the Ohio 
and the Mississippi ; that he had procured some boats, and 
that a small number of men were to accompany him. On 
the night of the 10th of December, 1806, there were assem- 
bled at Blannerhasset's Island, in Ohio river, a few men, 
who had two or three boats, on board of which some arms 
are said to have been laden. These boats departed that 
night, and arrived at the mouth of Cumberland river. 
Burr was not of this party, but descended the Cumberland 
with some boats, and there joined the Blannerhasset party ; 
and the whole force proceeded down the Ohio, and into the 
Mississippi. The number of boats, after Blannerhasset 
united with Burr, was said to be not more than eight, and 
the number of men not exceeding sixty. Before this time 
Burr had been twice accused by grand juries in Kentucky ; 
but there was no sufficient ground to proceed against him. 
On hearing of the second accusation, he voluntarily pre- 
sented himself at court and was discharged. 

An extensive combination had, undoubtedly, been con- 
templated ; and in part effected for some purpose. General 
James AVilkinson, then at New Orleans, was in some way 
connected with this affair, but in what manner and to what 
extent seems to be questionable. There was a communi- 
cation in cipher between him and Burr. The only letter 
so written seems to have had relation to an invasion of Span- 
ish territory. It is hardly doubtful whether the adminis- 
tration were ignorant of this. If they were not, it is difficult 
to account for continued confidence in Wilkinson to the 
16* 



186 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

close of his life. Some persons had gone by sea to New 
Orleans in expectation of Burr's arrival, and among others, 
Mr. Swartwout, of New York, and the famous Dr. Boll- 
man. Whatever the plot may have been, it was entirely 
defeated. At the time which best suited the purposes of 
the administration, the western country was awakened ; or- 
ders were issued to the naval and military force of the United 
States to take Burr and his party, while descending the 
river, and " if it shall become necessary for that purpose, 
to destroy his boats." Apprised of these measures, Burr 
thought proper to be landed somewhere on the shores of the 
Mississippi, and thence found his way to the Tombigbee 
river, in the Mississippi territory, on the 19th of February, 
1807, accompanied by one person. 

It appears that Burr was in advance of his companion 
thirty or forty yards, in passing a settlement called Wash- 
ington Court House, at about eleven o'clock at night. Burr 
passed on without halting or speaking ; but his companion 
inquired of one standing at the door of a public house for 
the dwelling of a Major Hinson, and on being answered 
followed Burr. The person inquired of, suspecting the first 
traveller to be Burr, followed with a sheriff to Hinson's, and 
there having his suspicions confirmed, went to Fort Stod- 
dard, and obtained a military officer and four soldiers, who 
took Burr into their custody. He was thence conducted aa 
a prisoner to Richmond, where he arrived towards the close 
of the month of March. 



LETTER XLVII. 

September 21, 1S33. 

On the 30th of March, 1807, George Hay, Esq., Attorney 
of the United States for Virginia, applied to Chief Justice 
Marshall to commit Colonel Burr on the charge of treason. 
A preliminary examination was had of the evidence, and 
the judge was of opinion, that it did not authorize a com- 
mitment for that crime, but only for a misdemeanor ; and 
Burr was, therefore, allowed to find bail for his appearance 
at the next Circuit Court at Richmond ; bail was given. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 187 

On the 22d of May, the Circuit Court was opened. The 
counsel for the prosecution were George Hay, Alexander 
McRac, and William Wirt. For Burr, John Baker, Benja- 
min Botts, John Wickham, Edmund Randolph, and Luther 
Martin appeared. At a subsequent day, Charles Lee also 
appeared. To these may be added Burr himself, who had 
been a lawyer of great eminence. Many days were passed 
in selecting a grand jury. Among others William B. Giles 
had been summoned, who had been informed by Mr. Jeffer- 
son of the certainty of Burr's guilt. This gentleman, no 
doubt at Mr. Jefferson's suggestion, had moved the Senate 
to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, which motion, if suc- 
cessful in both branches, would have given Mr. Jefferson 
unlimited control over the personal liberty of every citizen 
in the United States. The motion was rejected even by that 
Congress. Mr. Giles seems to have had little doubt of his 
fitness to serve as grand juror. But after examination and 
discussion he withdrew. John Randolph (the same who 
was sent recently as minister to Russia) was foreman of the 
grand jury. 

There appears to have been much discussion in court on 
the evidence which should go to the grand jury. Amonor 
other persons called as witnesses fjr the government was 
Dr. Erick Bollman, for whom Mr. Jefferson had prepared a 
certificate of pardon, which Mr. Hay presented to Bollman 
in court, and which Bollman peremptorily refused to accept. 
He was, however, sworn and sent to the jury. 

While the jury were deliberating, the court were engaged 
in a long argument on a motion to punish General Wilkinson 
for contempt of court, in having unlawfully caused one Knox 
to be arrested, imprisoned, and forcibly conducted on board 
a United States vessel, called the Revenge, at New Orleans, 
and thence brought to Richmond, as a witness against Burr. 
The proceedings of Wilkinson appear to have been arbitrary 
and oppressive, and enforced by his military authority ; but 
the Chief Justice decided, that he was not chargeable with 
contempt. Wilkinson came from New Orleans in the same 
vessel. The precise charge against him was, that he had 
used illegal means ; and had invaded the privilege of wit- 
nesses; tending to the corruption of evidence ; and materially 
to affect the justice and dignity of the court, so as to subject 
him to process of contempt. But, as before stated, the 
charge was not sustained. 



188 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

On the 24th of June, the grand jury came in with cliarges 
of treason and misdemeanor against Burr ; and with like 
charges against Herman Blannerhasset. Afterwards similar 
charges were found against General Jonathan Dayton and 
one Smith. Great difficulties occurred in selecting a jury 
for trial ; party feelings had taken so strong a hold, that 
almost every person called seemed to have made up his mind 
from rumors and newspaper statements. The selection of a 
jury occasioned a long delay. 

On the 17th of August, Burr was put on trial, charged 
with having excited insurrection, rebellion, and war, on the 
10th of December, 1806, at Blannerhasset's Island, in Vir- 
ginia. Secondly, the same charge was repeated, with the 
addition of a traitorous intention of taking possession of the 
city of New Orleans with force and arms. To all which he 
pleaded not guilty. 

Many witnesses were examined to show in what manner 
Colonel Burr had employed himself, in the western country, 
in 1805 and 1806 ; and to show that he had contracted for 
boats and provisions ; and had conferred with divers per- 
sons, to some of whom he had disclosed one purpose, and 
to some another, according to the expectation of operating 
on them through different motives. The probability is, 
that Burr was then a desperate man. He was an exile from 
the state of New York, in consequence of the pendency 
there of the indictment for the murder of Colonel Hamilton ; 
he had lost the popular favor ; his means had been much 
reduced ; he held the administration in contempt ; he had 
insatiable ambition ; and appears to have thirsted for oppor- 
tunity to distinguish himself, and to retrieve his standing 
at all hazards. Yet, as circumstances now appear, one can- 
not but think, that a man of Burr's sagacity must have had 
some assurances and encouragement from the government, 
or from its military chief, Wilkinson, that he might move 
against the Spanish territories, whatever other designs he 
may have had. If Burr had no such reliance on govern- 
ment, it is improbable so intelligent a person should have 
imagined, that he could proceed successfully with his few 
boats and men, even if permitted to do as he pleased. If 
his object was to seize New Orleans, he must have been 
deranged to think his armament sufficient for his purpose, 
if he had not been assured of Wilkinson's co-operation. If 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 189 

Wilkinson can be supposed to have favored Burr's design, 
he may have changed his mind at a convenient time ; or 
he may have accepted Burr's confidence, with the intention 
of defeating his projects, when this couhl be most effectually 
done. It is very possible that Mr. Burr, who is yet living, 
may leave some account of these transactions. 

Among the witnesses called by the government ao-ainst 
the accused was a very extraordinary man, well known 
and much esteemed for his exploits on the northern coast 
of Africa. His testimony is interesting, because it discloses 
his views of Colonel Burr ; and because it gives some ac- 
count of himself It should be remarked, that the counsel 
of the accused had insisted, that the government's counsel 
ought to be required to prove, in the first instance, some 
overt act of levying war against the United States, accord- 
ing to the charge in the indictment, viz. at Blannerhasset's 
Island, in the Ohio river, in the month of December, 1806. 
This, like other suggestions, was fully argued, and it was 
decided to be proper first to offer such proof The gentle- 
man above alluded to, Geneial William Eaton, was then 
called as a witness, and it was asked whether he was called 
to prove the overt act. It was answered that he was not, 
but to prove the previous intention of Burr. He was objected 
to, and another argument ensued ; but the court decided, 
that evidence might be given of the intentions entertained 
by Burr, as these might show the character of the acts done 
at the island. General Eaton was thereupon sworn and 
examined. Commodore Truxton was also sworn and ex- 
amined. The testimony of these two witnesses furnish 
the best materials for judging of the real designs of Burr ; 
but these have no longer such interest as to make it worth 
while to transcribe this evidence. 



LETTER XLVIII. 

September 25, 1833. 

Several other witnesses were examined to prove the acts 
done at Blannerhasset's Island by Colonel Burr's order, or 
suggestion. The sum of this evidence was, that he had 



190 FAl&ILIAR LETTERS 

directed the building of boats and the purchase of provi- 
sions ; and that three or four boats and some men with 
arms were at the Island about the lUth of December ; that 
under fear of being taken by the militia, this party left the 
Islajid in their boats in the night, and went down the Ohio. 
It appeared that Burr had been at the Island, though not 
there at any time, while this party were there, but was at a 
distance of hundreds of miles, and in another state, (Ken- 
tucky.) The counsel for the accused then moved the court, 
that the further examination should be arrested, inasmuch 
as it was proved that Burr was not present when the overt 
act, (if such it was,) alleged in the indictment, took place. 

This motion produced one of the most learned and able 
arguments to be found in the whole course of judicial pro- 
ceedings. As much of it as is reported spreads over more 
than 450 pages. The Chief Justice pronounced his opinion 
on the 31st of August. At the commencement he says : 
" A degree of eloquence, seldom displayed on any occasion, 
" has embellished a solidity of argument and a depth of 
" research, by which the court has been greatly aided in 
" forming the opinion which it is about to deliver." This 
carefully prepared and elaborate opinion resulted in this ; 
that as the counsel for the government were not understood 
to deny, that if the overt act be not proved by two witnesses, 
so as to be submitted to the jury, all other testimony must 
be irrelevant ; because no other testimony, (as to subsequent 
acts,) could prove the overt act. That an assembly on Blan- 
nerhasset's Island was proved by the requisite number of 
witnesses, and the court might submit to the jury, whether 
that assemblage amounted to a " levying of war ;" but the 
presence of the accused at that assemblage being no where 
alleged, except in the indictment, the overt act was not 
proved by a single witness ; and, of consequence, all other 
testimony must be irrelevant. 

After this opinion had been delivered, Mr. Hay asked 
time to consider what his duty further required. When the 
court met at a late hour in the afternoon, Mr. Hay said, 
he had examined the opinion, (which had been handed to 
him in writing,) and that he must leave the case with the 
jury. The verdict was, " We of the jury say, that Aaron 
" Burr is not proved to be guilty under this indictment, by 
" any evidence submitted to us. We, therefore, find himi 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 191 

" not guilty." Burr was tried at the same court on the in- 
dictment for misdemeanor and acquitted. At the conclu- 
sion, Colonel Burr was ordered to be committed to answer 
in the state of Ohio to the charge of setting on foot, and 
providing the means for a military expedition in that state, 
against the territories of a foreign prince, with whom the 
United States were at peace. He gave bail for his appear- 
ance, and was set at liberty. Whether any prosecution in 
this respect occurred, it has not seemed worth while to in- 
quire. None is remembered. In 1808, Colonel Burr was 
in England. He returned in 1812. He came home to 
dwell in a humble seclusion, and was known only as a prac- 
titioner at the bar. 

Mr. Jefferson did not lose sight of Burr. In a letter to 
Dr. James Brown, October 27, 1808, (vol. iv. p. 115,) he 
says : " Burr is in London, and is giving out to his friends, 
" that government (English) offers him two millions of 
" dollars, the moment he can raise an ensign of rebellion, 
" as big as a pocket handkerchief Some of his partisans 
" believe this, because they wish it." 

The trial being over, and the law having had its fair 
operation on the case, it might be supposed that a Chief 
Magistrate of the Union would be contented with having 
done his duty ; and that decorum towards a co-ordinate 
branch of the government would have prevented him from 
dipping his pen anew. Most extraordinary is it, that one of 
his own family should have given to the world the following 
picture of the true character of the man. (See vol. iv. 
p. 102.) 

To George Hay. 

" MoNTicELLo, September 4, 1807. 
" Dear Sir, 

" Yours of the 1st came to hand yesterday. The event 
" has been," (here a number of stars are introduced, shoto- 
ing that something was written, lohich even Mr. Jefcrson's 
editor did riot venture to disclose,) " that is to say, not only 
" to clear Burr, but to prevent the evidence from ever going 
" before the world. It is now, therefore, more than ever in- 
" dispensable, that not a single witness be paid, or permitted 
" to depart, until his testimony has been committed to 



192 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

* writing, either as delivered in court, or as taken by your- 
' self in tlie presence of any of Burr's counsel, who may 

* choose to cross-examine. These whole proceedings will 
' be laid before Congress, that they may decide, whether 
' the defect has been in the evidence of guilt, or in the law, 
' or in the application of the law ; and that they may pro- 
' vide the proper remedy for the past and for the future. 

" I must pray you, also, to have an authentic copy of the 
' record made out, (without saying for tchat,) and to send it 
' to me. If the judge's opinions make not a part of it, then 
' I must ask a copy of them either under his hand, if he 
' delivers one signed, or duly proved by affidavit. 

" This criminal is preserved to become the rallying point 
' of all the disaffected and worthless in the United States ; 
' and to be the pivot, on which all the intrigues and con- 
' spiracles, which foreign governments may wish to disturb 
' us with, are to turn. If he is convicted of the misde- 
' meanor, the judge must, in decency, give us respite by 
' some short confinement of him ; but we must expect it to 
' be very short. Be assured yourself, and communicate the 
' same assurances to your colleagues, that your and their 
' zeal and abilities have been displayed in this affair, to 
' my entire satisfaction, and to your own honor." 

Such is the letter which Thomas Jefferson wrote concern- 
ing the official conduct of John Marshall, Chief Justice of 
the United States! Is it or not the outpouring of a pecu- 
liarly organized mind, at having lost its expected victim ? 
Is it or not a search after means to dishonor a judicial 
officer, perhaps to impeach and remove him, because he did 
not convict, on solemn public trial, with the guard of a jury, 
one whom Mr. Jefferson had condemned in his closet, un- 
heard, on the testimony of his own parasites? Is such a 
man a fit person to conceive of the solemnity and purity of 
the administration of justice, where human life is involved, 
and where the law declares every man to be presumed in- 
nocent until found guilty ? If Mr. Jefferson could have 
placed Tallmadges and Halls on the bench, at his plea- 
sure, and could have packed his juries, what would have 
been the fate of the " disaffected and the worthless," in this 
land of liberty ! Whatever may be thought of Burr, and 
however desperately wicked any one may please to think 
him; it is the principle of action, disclosed in this letter, 



ON PUBLIC CHAUACTERS. 193 

which terrifies and astonishes, considering what station he 
held, who wrote it. Here is one more proof, that those, vviio 
talk and boast the loudest of republican liberty, are the men 
least qualified to be trusted with power. 

This trial requires some remarks. In the course of the 
argument, some suggestions were made, (and very possibly 
in consequence of the letters written to Mr. Hay by Mr. 
Jefferson, during the trial,) that the court might be under 
some bias favorable to Colonel Burr. These called for some 
notice on the part of the Chief Justice, He did notice them 
with calmness, self-respect, and dignity, which deserves to 
be remembered for ever, not only to his due honor, but as 
an example of judicial independence and propriety, on 
which, no doubt, the liberties of this country depend, Mr. 
Jefferson's doctrines notwithstanding. 

" Much," says the Chief Justice, " has been said, in the 
" course of the argument, on which the court feels no incli- 
" nation to comment particularly, but which may, perhaps, 
" not improperly receive some notice. That this court 
" dares not usurp authority is most true. That this court 
" dares not shrink from its duty is not less true. No man 
" is desirous of becoming the peculiar subject of calumny. 
" No man, might he let the bitter cup pass from him with- 
" out self-reproach, would drain it to the bottom. But if he 
" have no choice in the case ; if there be no alternative pre- 
" scribed to him, but a dereliction of duty, or the opprobrium 
" of those denominated the world, he merits the contempt, 
" as well as the indignation of his country, who can hesitate 
" which to embrace. 

" That gentlemen, in a case the most interesting, in the 
" zeal with which they advocate particular opinions, and 
" under the conviction, in some measure, produced by that 
" zeal, should, on each side, press their arguments too far; 
" should be impatient at any deliberation in the court ; and 
" should suspect, or fear the operation of motives, to which 
" alone they can ascribe that deliberation, is, perhaps, a 
" frailty incident to human nature ; but if any conduct on 
" the part of the court could warrant a sentiment that it 
" would deviate to the one side or to the other, from the 
" line prescribed by duty and law, that conduct would be 
" viewed by the judges themselves with an eye of extreme 
17 



194 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" severity, and would long be recollected with deep and 
" serious regret." 

These are the sentiments of one who understood the 
sacred trust of administering justice according to law, in a 
government of laws; sentiments, of which Mr. Jefferson was 
incapable of conceiving. He is rather to be commiserated 
than reproached for his incapacity- 

This trial deserves remark on other grounds. The time 
may come, when a popular President and a subservient 
Senate may place in judicial seats mere instruments of ex- 
ecutive will. This is one way in which despotism may ap- 
proach, and not an improbable one ; quite as probable as in 
military form. We have already seen something of this in 
Mr. Jefferson's reign (embargo times) ; nothing was want- 
ing then but the proper instruments. 

At the time of this trial, Mr. Jefferson had acquired to 
himself, almost entirely by his pen, an astonishing supremacy 
over public opinion. AH who did not bow to him were the 
" disaffected and the worthless." He cordially hated Burr. 
Every measure had been taken to pre-occupy the minds of 
the citizens against him. It was hardly to be expected, that 
he should have a fair trial any where ; and especially, per- 
haps, in the state in which he was tried ; for there he had 
been prejudged by many of the most influential men on Mr. 
Jefferson's own assurances of his guilt. It is of no import- 
ance who, or what the accused may have been ; he was 
entitled to a trial according to law. 

Taking the peculiar circumstances of the trial into view, 
it is one of remarkable interest, and is well worth considera- 
tion for the instruction which it imparts. The accused had 
been the equal competitor with his real prosecutor for the 
highest office in a great republic. He was, for four years, 
second only to him, and had but recently descended from 
his elevation. His trial was for his life, nor for his life only, 
but that it might end on the gibbet, for a crime so infamous 
as to include, in its complete perpetration, almost every 
other in the catalogue of crimes. Here was a grand jury 
who believed him so far guilty, as to think it their duty to 
subject him to that trial. Here was a collection of jurors, 
as fair and impartial, perhaps, as the state of public excite- 
ment would permit ; and here were learned and eminent 
counsel on both sides. The one intent to convict, not only 



I 



At 



ON PUBLIC ClIAnACTERS. 195 

because they thought this the line of professional and pa- 
triotic duty, but because they could not shut out fron) view, 
that conviction would be grateful to the man of the people. 
The other side, intent on applying the law and the evidence, 
as it should be applied ; and, perhaps, influenced by the fact, 
that they had some responsibility in shielding one, whose 
condemnation would have been, not merely an act of justice, 
but a political triumph. Presiding over this contention, sat 
one, who could have felt no favor for the accused : and who 
must have abhorred the crimes which the indictment alleged. 
He could not have been ignorant of the character of the 
prosecution. In such circumstances, happily for him, he 
could rise above all motives, which the pure administration 
of justice rejected. It has rarely fallen to the lot of any 
man, to have had occasion to seek so earnestly for the truth, 
both as to the law and as to the evidence ; and to no man, 
to have conducted himself with more dignity and mao-na- 
nimity, in the most responsible station in which one can be 
placed. 

There is an emotion of sadness in reflecting on the pro- 
fessional labor of this case. The feelings and the exertions 
of an advocate are little appreciated by the world. The 
judge has to feel the way of his duty and to adhere to it, 
leaving consequences to themselves. The accused must be 
presumed to have thought of consequences, before he took 
on himself to act ; but he confides his hopes and his fears, 
his life and his fame to his counsel ; and they painfully re- 
alize that he does so. Laborious, indeed, must have been 
the exertions, in the intensity of summer, in a southern 
clime, in this serious investigation. The arguments as re- 
ported give some intimation of what these exertions were, 
in searching out, comparing, and arranging authorities ; but 
they do not and cannot disclose to the world the painful 
anxiety of preparing and delivering the result of intense in- 
tellectual effort. 

There is one circumstance in this aff"air of Colonel Burr, 
which ought to be noticed, as it shows Mr. Jefferson's views 
of the proper exercise of power. Swartwout and Bollman 
had been forcibly seized by General Wilkinson at New Or- 
leans, and sent under guard to the city of Washington, and 
there committed to prison. If these persons had been guilty, 
"or liable to be put on trial at all, the trial should have been 



196 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

had in the district in which the crime was committed, viz. 
the Mississippi territory, in which the seat of justice was at 
New Orleans. These persons moved the court for a writ of 
habeas corpus, and both of them were discharged, because 
the proper place of prosecution, if there were evidence 
against them, was New Orleans and not the city of Wash- 
ington. If Wilkinson did not act by order of Mr. Jefferson, 
he acted with his approbation. Hence it appears what views 
Mr. Jefferson entertained as to the exercise of power ; 
and what he would have done, if his friend Giles's motion 
to suspend the writ of habeas corpus had prevailed. The 
only apology which can be offered for Mr. Jefferson is, that 
he seems to have sincerely believed the will of a President 
elected by the people, (and none could be considered as part 
of the people who did not vote for him,) to be the supreme 
law. Thus it is obvious, that the will of such a President 
is a despotism ; and of the worst sort, because he can give 
it the forms of law, when he can surmount the obstacle of 
judiciary interference. 

NOTICE OF MR. WIRT. 

Mr. Wirt, who makes a distinguished figure in this trial, 
was then about thirty-four years of age. At the age of about 
fifty-seven, an opportunity occurred to observe him, when 
he appeared in Boston, as counsel in a cause of great 
interest to the parties. He was a tall, handsome man, well 
formed and rather full person, of polished and amiable man- 
ners. He observed a highly decorous deportment in his 
forensic tactics. In private society (while in Boston) he 
was grave, thoughtful, and not disposed to conversation. 
He was said to be a true gentleman in his feelings and in- 
tercourse with others, and deservedly beloved in his domes- 
tic relations. He was a scholar, a profound lawyer, and a 
man of real eloquence, founded on substantial intellectual 
power. His fame was entirely professional, excepting that 
he wrote a small volume, entitled the British Spy, describ- 
ing certain eminent men ; and the Life of Patrick Henry. 
The former was much esteemed for the elegance of its 
style ; of the latter, it is said, that he thought he had not 
acquitted himself as well as he supposed he had when he 
sent it to the press. Since the foregoing page was written, 
the sorrowful intelligence is received, that this gentleman 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 197 

has deceased in the midst of his professional labors ; one 
more proof of the severe cost and peril of eminence at the 
bar. The following extract will give some, though but a 
faint impression of the eloquence to which Mr. Wirt could 
ascend. It is taken from one of the many speeclies which 
he made in the course of Burr's trial. It is extracted for 
the further purpose of showing this gentleman's view of 
Burr's machinations. 

" Who Aaron Burr is, we have seen, in part, already. I 
will add, that beginning his operations in New York, he 
associates with him men whose wealth is to supply the ne- 
cessary funds. Possessed of the mainspring, his personal 
labor contrives all the machinery. Pervading the conti- 
nent from New York to New Orleans, he draws into his 
plan, by every allurement, men of all ranks and descrip- 
tions. To youthful ardor he presents danger and glory ; 
to ambition, — rank, titles, and honors; to avarice, — the 
mines of Mexico. To each person whom he addresses 
he presents the object adapted to his taste. Civil life is, 
indeed, quiet upon its surface, but in its bosom this man 
has contrived to deposit the materials, which, with the 
slightest touch of his match, produce an explosion to shake 
the continent. In the autumn of 18C6, he goes forth, for 
the last time, to apply this match. He meets with Blan- 
nerhasset. 

" And who is Blannerhasset ? A man of letters, who fled 
from the storms of his own country, to find quiet in ours. 
He sought quiet and solitude in the bosom of our western 
forests. But he carried with him taste, science, and 
wealth; and lo ! the desert smiled. Possessing himself of 
a beautiful island, in the Ohio, he rears upon it a palace, 
and decorates it with every embellishment of fancy. A 
shrubbery, that Shenstone might have envied, blooms 
around him. Music, that might have charmed Calypso 
and her nymphs, is his. An extensive library spread 
its treasures before him. A philosophical apparatus offers 
to him all the secrets and mysteries of nature. Peace, 
tranquillity, and innocence shed their mingled delights 
around him. And to crown the enchantment of the 
scene, a wife who is said to be lovely beyond her sex, and 
graced with every accomplishment that can render it 
17* 



198 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" irresistible, had blessed him with her love, and made him 
" the father of several children. 

" The destroyer comes ! he comes to change this para- 
" dise into hell. Yet the flowers do not wither at his ap- 
" proach. No monitory shuddering through the bosom of 
" their unfortunate possessor warns him of the ruin that is 
" coming. A stranger presents himself Introduced to 
" their civilities by the high rank which he had lately held 
" in his country, he soon finds his way to their hearts, by 
" the dignity and elegance of his demeanor, the light and 
" beauty of his conversation, and the seductive and fasci- 
" nating powers of his address. Innocence is ever simple 
" and credulous. Conscious of no design itself, it suspects 
" none in others. Such was the state of Eden, when the 
" serpent entered its bowers. 

" By degrees he infuses into the heart of Blannerhasset 
" the poison of his own ambition. He breathes into it the 
" fire of his own courage; a daring and desperate thirst for 
" glory ; an ardor, panting for great enterprises ; for the 
" storm, bustle, and hurricane of life. In a short time the 
" whole man is changed ; every object of former delight 
" is relinquished. No more he enjoys the tranquil scene. 
" His books are abandoned. His shrubbery blooms, and 
" breathes its fragrance upon the air, in vain. His ear no 
" longer drinks the rich melody of nmsic ; it longs for the 
" trumpet's clangor and the cannon's roar. Even the prattle 
" of his babes, once so sweet, no longer aftects him. The 
" angel smile of his wife, which hitherto touched his bosorii 
" with ecstacy unspeakable, is now unseen and unfelt. His 
" imagination has been dazzled by visions of diadems, of 
" stars, and garters, and titles of nobility, &c. &c. 

" In a few months, we find the beautiful and tender part- 
" ner of his bosom, whom he lately permitted not ' the winds 
" of summer to visit too roughly ; ' we find her shivering 
" on the winter banks of the Ohio, and mingling her tears 
" with the torrents that froze as they fell. Yet this unfor- 
" tunate man, thus deluded from his interest and his happi- 
" ness, thus seduced from the paths of innocence and peace, 
" thus confounded in the toils that were deliberately spread 
" for him, and overwhelmed by the mastering spirit and 
" genius of another ; — this man, thus ruined and undone, 
" and made to play a subordinate part in this grand drama 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 199 

" of guilt and treason, — this man is to be called the prin- 
" cipal offender ; while he, by whom he was thus plunged 
" in misery, is comparatively innocent, a mere accessory ! 
" Is this reason ? Is it law f Is it humanity ? Sir, neither 
" the human heart, nor the human understanding will bear 
" a perversion so monstrous and absurd ! so shocking to the 
" soul ! so revolting to reason ! Let Aaron Burr, then, not 
" shrink from the high destination which he has courted ; 
" and having already ruined Blannerhasset in fortune, char- 
" acter, and happiness for ever, let him not attempt to finish 
" the tragedy, by thrusting that ill-fated man between him- 
" self and punishment." p.j(Burr's Trial, vol. ii. pp. 96, 98.) 
Highly honorable testimonials of Mr. Wirt's professional 
eminence and individual worth occurred on the event of 
his decease, as well among the members of the bar as in 
court and in the House of Representatives. The latter an 
unusual occurrence, as he had never been a member of 
Congress, though he had been Attorney General twelve 
years, (from 1817 to 1829 — Monroe's and J. Q,. Adams's 
administrations.) 



LETTER XLIX. 

October 10, 1833. 

In 1795, Alexander Hamilton, at the age of thirty-eight, 
resumed the practice of the law in the city of New York, 
and there continued until the close of his life. In Decem- 
ber of that year, his personal appearance was this : He was 
under middle size, thin in person, but remarkably erect and 
dignified in his deportment. His bust, seen in so many 
houses, and the pictures and prints of him make known, 
too generally, the figure of his face, to make an attempt at 
description expedient. His hair was turned back from his 
forehead, powdered, and collected in a^club behind. His 
complexion was exceedingly fair, and varying from this only 
by the almost feminine rosiness of his cheeks. His might 
be considered, <as to figure and color, an imcommonly hand- 
some face. When at rest, it had rather a severe and 
thoughtful expression ; but when engaged in conversation, 



200 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

it easily assumed an attractive smile. He was expected, 
one day in December, 1795, at dinner, and was the last 
who came. When he entered the room, it was apparent 
from the respectful attention of the company, that he was a 
distinguished individual. He was dressed in a blue coat, 
with bright buttons ; the skirts of his coat were unusually 
long. He wore a white waistcoat, black silk small clothes, 
white silk stockings. The gentleman, who received him as 
a guest, introduced him to such of the company as were 
strangers to him ; to each he made a formal bow, bending 
very low, the ceremony of shaking hands not being observed. 
The fame of Hamilton had reached every one, who knew 
any thing of public men. His appearance and deportment 
accorded with the dignified distinction to which he had at- 
tained in public opinion. At dinner, whenever he engaged 
in the conversation, every one listened attentively. His 
mode of speaking was deliberate and serious ; and his voice 
engagingly pleasant. In the evening of the same day, he 
was in a mixed assembly of both sexes ; and the tranquil 
reserve, noticed at the dinner table, had given place to a 
social and playful manner, as though in this he was alone 
ambitious to excel. 

The eloquence of Hamilton was said to be persuasive and 
commanding ; the more likely to be so, as he had no guide 
but the impulse of a great and rich mind, he having had 
little opportunity to be trained at the bar, or in popular 
assemblies. Those who could speak of his manner from the 
best opportunities to observe him, in public and private, 
concurred in pronouncing him to be a frank, amiable, high- 
minded, open-hearted gentleman. He was capable of in- 
spiring the most affectionate attachment ; but he could 
make those, whom he opposed, fear and hate him cordially. 
He was capable of intense and effectual application, as is 
abundantly proved by his public labors. But he had a 
rapidity and clearness of perception, in which he may not 
have been equalled. One, who knew his habits of study, 
said of him, that when he had a serious object to accomplish, 
his practice was to reflect on it previously ; and when he 
had gone through this labor, he retired to sleep, without 
regard to the hour of the night, and having slept six or 
seven hours, he rose, and having taken strong coffee, seated 
himself at his table, where he would remain six, seven, or 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 201 

eight hours ; and the product of his rapid pen, required 
little correction for the press. He was among the few, alike 
excellent, whether in speaking, or in writing. In private 
and friendly intercourse, he is said to have hecn exceedingly 
amiable, and to havg been aftectionately beloved. 

Aaron Burr was at this time, (Decend^er, 1795,) probably 
about Hamilton's age. He had attained to celebrity as a 
lawyer at the same bar. He wms of about the s;ime stature 
as Hamilton, and a thin man, but differently formed. His 
motions in walking were not, like Hamilton's, erect, but a 
little stooping, and far from graceful. His face was short and 
broad ; his black eyes uncommonly piercing. His manner 
gentle and seductive. But he had also a calmness and 
sedateness, when these suited his purpose, and an eminent 
authority of manner, when the occasion called for this. He 
was said to have presided with great dignity in the Senate, 
and, especially, at the trial of Judge Chase. Though emi- 
nent as a lawyer, he was not said to be a man of distin- 
guished eloquence, nor of luxuriant mind. His speeches 
were short and to the pur]X)se. 

Hamilton considered him, both as a man and as a politi- 
cian, much as he proved to be in after life ; and was not 
careful to conceal his opinions. In short, he held Burr to 
be an ambitious and dangerous man, and was indiscreet 
enough to have expressed his opinions in such a manner, as 
to enable Burr to take offence, and to call him to account. 

It seems, that a certain Dr. Charles D. Cooper had written 
a letter to some one, in which he said, " General Hamilton 
" and " (another person who need not be named) " have 
" declared in substance, that they looked upon Mr. Burr as 
" a dangerous man, and one who ought not to be trusted 
" with the reins of government." " I could detail to you 
" a still more despicable opinion, which General Hamilton 
"has expressed of Mr. Burr." On the 18th of June, 1804, 
this letter had, sometime after its publication, come to Burr's 
knowledge, and on that day he sent a copy of it to Hamil- 
ton, by Mr. Van Ness, in which he demanded " a prompt 
" and unqualified acknowledgment, or denial of the use of 
" any expression, which would warrant the assertions 'of 
" Dr, Cooper." 

On the 20th, General Hamilton made a reply of some 
length, commenting on the demand made on him, and on 



202 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

the expressions imputed to him, and conchided by saying, 
" I stand ready to avow or disavow, promptly and explicitly, 
" any precise or definite opinion, which I may be charged 
" with having declared of any gentleman." " It cannot be 
" expected that I shall enter into an explanation, upon a 
" basis so vague as that which you have adopted. I trust, 
" on more reflection, you will see the matter in the s;«ne 
" light with me. If not, I can only regret the circumstance 
" and abide the consequences." 

On the 2 1st, Burr answered, and among other things said, 
" Political opposition can never absolve gentlemen from the 
" necessity of rigid adherence to the laws of honor and the 
" rules of decorum. I neither claim such privilege, nor in- 
" dulge it in others. The common sense of mankind affixes 
" to the epithet adopted by Dr. Cooper, the idea of dishonor. 
" It has been publicly applied to me, under the sanction of 
" your name. Your letter has furnished me with new 
" reasons for requiring a definite reply." 

On the 2*2d, General Hamilton consulted with a friend, 
(Mr. Pendleton,) and showed to him an intended answer of 
that date, in which he said, after some introductory remarks, 
" If by a definite reply, you mean the direct avowal or dis- 
" avowal, required in your letter, I have no other answer to 
*' give than that which has already been given. If you 
" mean any thing different, admitting of greater latitude, it 
" is requisite you should explain." 

Conversations and correspondence ensued between Mr. 
Pendleton and Mr. Van Ness, in which it was made known 
to the latter, that General Hamilton could truly say, that he 
recollected only one conversation in which Dr. Cooper was 
present ; and that it turned wholly on political topics, and 
did not attribute to Burr any instance of dishonorable con- 
duct ; nor relate to his private character ; and that in rela- 
tion to any other language, or conversation, which Burr 
would specify, a prompt or frank avowal or denial would be 
given. 

This intercourse resulted in the express declaration of 
Mr. Burr's friend, Van Ness, " That no denial, or declara- 
" tion will be satisfactory, unless it be general, so as wholly 
" to exclude the idea, that rumors derogatory to Colonel 
" Burr's honor have originated with General Hamilton ; or 
" have been fairly inferred from any thing he has said. A 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 203 

" definite reply to a requisition of this nature was demanded 
" by Colonel Burr's letter of the 21st instant. This being 
" refused invites the alternative alluded to in General Ilam- 
" ilton's letter of the 20th." 

Mr. Pendleton made a very becoming answer, showing 
the extended requisition which this last letter contained, and 
perceiving the intention of both Burr and Van Ness to have 
the matter settled in one way and no other, appointed a time 
to receive the communication. 

On the receipt of " the message," General Hamilton 
made a calm, deliberate commentary on the transaction, as 
far as it had gone, and put it into the hands of Mr. Pendle- 
ton, who offered it to Mr. Van Ness, but he declined re- 
ceiving it ; alleging that he considered the correspondence 
closed. In this commentary General Hamilton remarks, 
that if the alternative alluded to is definitely tendered, it 
must be accepted ; but that, as the Circuit Court of the 
United States was then sitting, he could not suddenly with- 
draw from his duties there ; and that the time of meeting 
must be subsequently arranged. General Hamilton seems 
to have had a foreboding of his fate. On Friday, July 6th, 
the Circuit Court closed, and I\Ir. Pendleton informed Mr. 
Van Ness, that General Hamilton would be ready at any 
time after the following Sunday. 

If Colonel Burr was resolved from the beginning to meet 
Hamilton and to force him into conflict, as the record of 
this afftiir would indicate, he had, afterwards, abundant 
reason to regret, that it was Hamilton, and not himself, 
who fell. 

On Wednesday, July 11th, (1804,) the parties crossed the 
North River to Hoboken on the Jersey shore. Hamilton 
arrived at seven in the morning. Burr, as had been agreed, 
was already on the ground, accompanied by Van Ness and 
a surgeon. Hamilton was attended by Pendleton, as his 
second, and Dr. Hosack. Hamilton was shot at the first 
fire, the ball entering his right side, and passing through to 
the vertebrae. When the ball struck him, he raised himself 
involuntarily on his toes and turned a little to the left, at 
which moment his pistol went off and he fell on his face. 
Dr. Hosack immediately came up and found him sitting on 
the ground, supported in the arms of Pendleton ; he had 
strength enough to say, " This is a mortal wound, Doctor," 



204 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

and then sunk away and became, to all appearance, lifeless. 
He was taken on board the barge and continued insensible, 
until he was about fifty yards from the shore, when he re- 
vived in consequence of the applications made to that end, 
and said, " my vision is indistinct." His vision became 
clearer, and seeing the pistol which he had held in his hand, 
he said, " Take care of that pistol, it is undischarged and 
" still cocked, it may go off and do harm ; Pendleton knows 
" I did not mean to fire at him." It would thus seem, that 
Hamilton was ignorant that he had discharged his pistol. 
As he approached' the shore, he said, " Let Mrs. Hamilton 
" be immediately sent for ; let the event be gradually broken 
" to her, but give her hopes." 

General Hamilton lived in agony until two o'clock in the 
afternoon of the following day. In the affecting narration 
of Dr. Hosack of the closing scenes of Hamilton's life, he 
says, " The great source of his anxiety seemed to be in his 
" sympathy with his half distracted wife and children. He 
" spoke to me frequently of them ; ' my beloved wife and 
" children,' were always his expressions. His fortitude 
" triumphed over his situation, dreadful as it was. Once, 
" indeed, at the sight of his children, brought to the bed- 
" side together, seven in number, his fortitude forsook him ; 
" he opened his eyes, gave them one look, and closed them 
" again until they were taken away. He alone could calm 
" the frantic grief of their mother. ' Remember, my Eliza, 
" you are a Christian,' were the words, which, with a firm 
" voice, but in a pathetic and impressive manner, he ad- 
" dressed to her." Dr. Hosack concludes his narrative with 
the truly appropriate words — 

" Incorrupta fides — nudaque veiitas ; 

" Quando ullam inveniet parem ? 

" Multis ille quidein flehilis occidit." 
As the state of public opinion then was, and as it may 
still be with some persons, was Hamilton justifiable in haz- 
arding his life against such a foe as Aaron Burr ? No one 
will deny, that, in whatsoever remarks he may have made on 
the conduct and character of Burr, he was influenced by 
good and patriotic motives. If he thought it was dangerous 
to trust Burr with power in the republic, was he or not right 
in striving to prevent his elevation ? * If he thought he dis- 

* Burr (if rightly remembered) was candidate for Governor. 



ON PUIJLIC CHARACTERS. 205 

cerned the real character of this man, was he forbidden to 
disclose it to prevent public evil ? What rule is a man to 
prescribe to himself, in an elective republic, as to disclosing 
vi^hat he may honestly believe to be promotive of the public 
welfare and preventive of public mischief? In such a case, 
it is believed, that one has a right to speak the truth of men, 
from good motives and for justifiable ends, especially when 
the party spoken of is a candidate for public suffrage. But 
prudence requires, that one should be careful to whom and 
before whom he speaks. Having spoken from good motives 
and for justifiable ends, no rule prescribed by any respect- 
able authority demands of one to risk his life. If this be 
not so, a reckless Catiline may silence a thousand Ciceros. 
In this case Hamilton was in a trying condition. He had 
spoken of Burr what he believed to be true ; he could not 
disavow what he had said, nor could he apologize, because 
he thought he had spoken only what was true, and that it 
was right so to speak. He was a soldier, and could not bear 
the imputation of wanting spirit ; least of all could he bear 
the supercilious vaunting of Aaron Burr, that he had been 
called by him to account, and shrunk from the call. But 
Hamilton mistook the probable judgment of the world. If 
he had refused the meeting with Burr, public opinion would 
have absolved him. He thought this could not be so. He 
went to the field of death from a mistaken but elevated sense 
of self-respect. Doubtful of the public judgment, yet feeling 
how pernicious his example might be, he conceived himself 
bound to bespeak the candor of the world, if it should be his 
fate to fall. The last paper he ever wrote was the following : 

" On my expected interview with Colonel Burr, I think it 
" proper to make some remarks explanatory of my conduct, 
" motives, and views. 

" I was certainly desirous of avoiding this interview, for 
" the most cogent reasons. 1. My religious and moral prin- 
" ciples are strongly opposed to the practice of duelling; 
" and it would ever give me pain to be obliged to shed the 
" blood of a fellow creature, in a private combat forbidden 
" by the laws. 2. My wife and children are extremely dear 
" to me, and my life is of the utmost importance to them in 
" various views. 3. I feel a sense of obligation towards my 
" creditors, who, in case of accident to me, may, by the 
" forced sale of my property, be in some degree sufferers. I 
18 



206 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" did not think myself at liberty, as a man of probity, lightly 
" to expose them to this hazard. 4. I am conscious of no 
" ill will to Colonel Burr, distinct from political opposition, 
" which, as I trust, has proceeded from pure and upright 
" motives. Lastly, I shall hazard much and can possibly 
*' gain nothing by the issue of the interview. 

" But it was, as I conceive, impossible for me to avoid it. 
" There were inti-insic difficulties in the thing, and artificial 
" embarrassments from the manner of proceeding on the 
" part of Colonel Burr. Intrinsic, because it is not to be 
" denied that my animadversions on the political principles, 
" character, and views of Colonel Burr have been extremely 
" severe ; and on different occasions, I, in common with 
" many others, have made very unfavorable criticisms on 
" particular instances of the private conduct of this gentle- 
" man. 

" In proportion as these impressions were entertained with 
" sincerity, and uttered with motives and for purposes, 
" which might to me appear commendable, would be the 
" difficulty, (until they could be removed by evidence of 
" their being erroneous,) of explanation, or apology. The 
" disavowal required of me by Colonel Burr, in a general 
" and indefinite form, was out of my power, if it had been 
" really proper for me to submit to be so questioned ; but I 
" was sincerely of opinion, that this could not be ; and in 
" this opinion I was confirmed by a very moderate and judi- 
*' cious friend, whom I consulted. Besides that. Colonel 
" Burr appeared to me to assume, in the first instance, a 
" tone unnecessarily peremptory and menacing ; and in the 
" second, positively offensive. Yet I wished, as far as might 
" be practicable, to leave a door open for accommodation. 
" This, I think, will be inferred from the written communi- 
" cations made by me and by my direction ; and would be 
" confirmed by the conversation between Mr. Van Ness and 
" myself, which arose out of the subject. I am not sure 
" whether, under all the circumstances, I did not go further 
" in the attempt to accommodate, than a punctilious delicacy 
" will justify. If so, I hope the motives I have stated will 
" excuse me. 

" It is not my design in what I have said to affix any 
" odium on the conduct of Colonel Burr, in this case. He 
" doubtless has heard of animadversions of mine, which 



\ 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 207 

" bore very hard upon him ; and it is probable that, as usual, 
" they were accompanied by some falsehoods. He may 
" have supposed himself under a necessity of acting as he 
" has done. I hope the grounds of his proceeding have 
" been such as ought to satisfy his own conscience. 

" I trust at the same time, that the world will do me the 
" justice to believe, that I have not censured him on light 
" grounds ; nor from unworthy inducements. I certainly 
" have had strong reasons for what I may have said, though 
" it is possible, that, in some particulars, I may have been 
" influenced by misconstruction or misinformation. It is 
" also my ardent wish, that I may have been more mistaken 
" than I think I have been ; and that he, by his future con- 
" duct, may show himself worthy of all confidence and 
" esteem, and prove an ornament and blessing to the country. 

" As well because it is possible, that I may have injured 
" Colonel Burr, however convinced myself, that my opin- 
" ions and declarations have been well founded, as from my 
" general principles and temper in relation to such affairs, I 
" have resolved, if our interview is conducted in the usual 
" manner, and it pleases God to give me the opportunity, to 
'* reserve and throw mcay my first fire ; and I have thoughts 
" even of reserving my second fire ; and thus giving a double 
" opportunity to Colonel Burr to pause and to reflect. It is 
" not, however, my intention to enter into any explanation 
" on the ground. Apology, from principle, I hope, rather 
" than pride, is out of the question. 

" To those, who, with me, abhorring the practice of duel- 
" ling, may think, that I ought on no account to have added 
" to the number of bad examples, I answer, that my relative 
" situation, as well in public as private, enforcing all the 
" considerations which constitute what men of the world 
" denominate honor, imposed on me (as I thought) a pecu- 
" liar necessity not to decline the call. The ability to be, 
" in future, useful, whether in resisting mischief, or effect- 
" ing good, in those crises of our public affairs which seem 
" likely to happen, would, probably, be inseparable from a 
" conformity to public prejudice in this particular. 

" A. H." 

However deeply to be regretted it is, that the name and 
memory of Hamilton must for ever be associated with the 



208 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

odious offence of duelling, it is some relief, that there is his 
own condemnation of the practice. If there be any atone- 
ment, even for him, it is found in the judgment which he 
formed, however erroneously, that his future usefulness to 
his country depended on his obedience to the barbarous 
" law of honor." 

On Saturday the 14th of July, the remains of General 
Hamilton were consigned to the tomb, with every mark of 
respect and honor, and with demonstrations, universal and 
heartfelt, of touching grief From a stage, erected in the 
portico of Trinity Church, Gouverneur Morris, having with 
him four sons of Hamilton, (the oldest sixteen and the 
youngest six,) pronounced an extemporaneous oration over 
the remains of Hamilton, to an afflicted multitude. What 
occasion, in the history of the human family, could be more 
touching ! It was Hamilton who had fallen, in the midst of 
manhood and usefulness, and by the hand of Burr ! The 
oration was worthy of the difficult and delicate occasion. 
It was uttered by one who felt the full sense of gratitude 
due from the country, and who fully comprehended the irre- 
parable loss which the country had sustained. It was the 
overflowing of a mind that knew how to estimate the highest 
human worth, and the bereavement which affectionate friend- 
ship had to mourn. 

The national misfortune was every where felt to be such, 
by all who were not steeped in party venom. Many funeral 
orations were pronounced ; among others, one in Boston 
by Harrison Gray Otis, which was worthy of his own repu- 
tation and of the lamented object of his eulogy. Rufus 
King was among the audience on this occasion. It was 
delivered to a crowded assembly in King's Chapel, on the 
26th of July. Among the concluding paragraphs is this 
faithful picture of the public feeling : " The universal sor- 
" row, manifested in every part of the Union upon the 
" melancholy exit of this great man, is an unequivocal testi- 
" monial of his public worth. The place of his residence is 
" overspread with a gloom which bespeaks the pressure of a 
" public calamity ; and the prejudices of party are absorbed 
" in the overflowing tide of national grief." 

Whatsoever Thomas Jefferson may have recorded of Alex- 
ander Hainilton, time and good sense are doing justice to 
both. The fame of Hamilton, associated with the fame of 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 209 

Washington, grows brighter and dearer to intelligent and 
patriotic Americans, while that of Jefferson, (with his own 
helping hand,) if remembered at all, will be only to show 
the difference between patriotism and its counterfeit. 



LETTER L. 

October 15, 183.3. 

Mr. Jefferson professes, in his communications to Con- 
gress, to be conscientiously careful of a "just economy ; " 
he assumes to be impartial in all dealings with foreign na- 
tions ; and scrupulously attentive to national honor. His 
pretensions in all these respects, may be tested by a single 
transaction. 

The boundaries of Louisiana not having been defined, 
and Spain being exasperated at the purchase, a state of hos- 
tility had arisen with Spain, which Mr. Jefferson hoped to 
allay by negotiation. Mr Monroe, the ever-ready diploma- 
tist of Mr. Jefferson, was sent to Madrid, and there passed 
five months in an humiliating attempt at compromise. He 
was, at length, bold enough to say, that there were but two 
modes, arbitration or war. Spain answered, that she should 
not choose arbitration. 

Mr. Jefferson was compelled to make a communication 
to Congress, which was confidential and secret, and wherein 
he makes known, that the very difficulties, (so far as France 
and Spain were concerned,) which the federalists had^re- 
dicted, had actually occurred. This message is dated the 
6th December, 1806, and from it the following extracts are 
made. " A convention was accordingly entered into be- 
" tween our minister of Madrid and the minister of Spain 
" for foreign affairs, by which it was agreed, that spoliations 
" by Spanish subjects, in Spain, should be paid for by that 
" nation ; those committed by French subjects, and carried 
*' into Spanish ports, should remain for further discussion. 
" Before this convention was returned to Spain with our 
" ratification, the transfer of Louisiana by France, took 
" place, an event as unexpected as disagreeable to Spain. 
'* From that moment, she seemed to change her conduct 
18* 



210 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" and disposition towards us. It was first manifested by 
" her protest against the right of France to alienate Louis- 
" iana to us ; which was, however, soon retracted ; and the 
" right confirmed. (How ?) Then, high offence was mani- 
" fested at the act of Congress, establishing a collection dis- 
" trict on the Mobile. She now refused to ratify the con- 
" vention, &c." 

The message goes on to say, that James Monroe was sent 
over, to settle boundaries. " Spain reserved herself for 
events." Monroe, after five months' labor, effected nothing ; 
no indemnity for spoliations ; no acknowledgment of limits 
beyond the Iberville ; and that " our line to the west ivas one 
" which tvould have left us but a string of land on the Mis- 
" sissippi." Each party was thus left to pursue its own mea- 
sures. Those, which they have chosen to pursue, " authorize 
" the inference, that it is their intention to advance on our 
" possessions, until met by an opposing force." " France 
" took the ground, that they acquired no right beyond the 
" Iberville, and meant to deliver us none beyond it." " The 
" protection of our citizens, the spirit and honor of our 
" country require, that force should be interposed to a cer- 
" tain degree." " The course to be pursued will require the 
" command of means, which it belongs to Congress exclu- 
" sively to yield, or deny." 

Thus we have Mr. Jeflferson's own admission, that every 
evil which his political adversaries had foretold, had occur- 
red, so far as they could occur, within the time between his 
purchase and the writing of his message. There was cer- 
tainly "a speck of war ; " how this was prevented from 
enlarging, will be seen by the application of 7neans, which 
Congress could yield, or deny. What did Mr. Jeflferson 
really mean by this message ? Just what circumstances 
might make it best to have it mean. 

It was no new thing for Mr. Jefferson to express himself 
so ambiguously, as to meet any contingency, that might 
arise. If Congress were willing to go to war, the message 
was adapted to that end ; if Congress were willing to vote 
money, the message was adapted to that end. The latter 
was Mr. Jefferson's purpose. Astonishing as the fact may 
be, Congress did place two millions of dollars at the disposal 
of Mr. Jefferson, which sum was to be applied to settling 
the troubles with Spain. The money was not so applied ; 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 211 

but it was actually sent to France, in the United States ship 
Hornet, for no other reason than that France, icantcd money, 
and must have it ; and that there was no other way to avoid 
a war both with France and Spain ! 

The proof of these facts comes from no less a personage 
than John Randolph, who was then a JefTersonian ; but he 
was so disgusted with this double dealing, and so shocked 
at the degradation of the country, that he published a pam- 
phlet signed Dcrius, in which he tells the truth, as to this 
transaction. If it be asked, how this is known to have 
been John Randolph's work, the answer is, that it was 
ascribed to him at the time, and not denied ; that the 
internal evidence is irresistible, as it states facts which no 
one but John Randolph, the President, Mr. Madison, (then 
Secretary of State,) and Mr. Gallatin, (then Secretary of 
the Treasury,) could have known ; and lastly, the narration 
in this pamphlet accords with facts publicly known. From 
this pamphlet the following extracts are made. 

Mr. Randolph was chairman of the committee, to whom 
this message was referred. He says, in his pamphlet : — 
" The chairman of the committee, to whom the confidential 
" message wa.s referred, immediately waited on the Presi- 
" dent, and informed him of the direction which had been 
" given to it. He then learned, not without surprise, that an 
" appropriation of two millions was wanted to purchase 
" Florida. He told the President, that he would never 
" agree to such a measure, because the money had not been 
" asked for in the message ; that he would not consent to 
" shift to his own shoulders, or those of the House, the 
" proper responsibility of the Executive ; if the money had 
" been explicitly demanded, he should have been averse to 
" granting it, because, after a total failure of every attempt 
" at negotiation, such a step would disgrace us for ever, be- 
" cause France would never withhold her ill offices, when, 
" by their interposition, she could extort money from us; 
" that it was equally to the interest of the United States, 
" to accommodate the matter by an exchange of territory; 
" (to this mode of settlement the President seemed much 
" opposed ;) that the nations of Europe, like the Barbary 
" powers, would hereafter refuse to look on the credentials 
" of our ministers, without a previous douceur, and much 
" more to the same purpose." 



212 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" The committee met on the 7th of December. One of 
'' its members, (Bidwell, of Massachusetts,) construed the 
" message into a requisition of money, for foreign inter- 
" course, and proposed a grant to that effect ; this was over- 
" ruled. He himself, when the subject was agitated in the 
" House, would not avow the same construction of the 
" message, which he had given in committee. On the 14th 
" of December, the chairman was obliged to go to Balti- 
" more, and did not return till the 21st. During this inter- 
" val, the despatches from Mr. Monroe, of the 18th and 
" 25th of October, were received by government. Pre- 
" vious to the chairman's departure, having occasion to 
" call on the Secretary of State, (Madison,) he was told by 
" that officer, that France icouM not permit Spain to adjust 
" her dijferences loith us ; that France ivanted money, and 
" that ive must give it to her, or have a Spqnish and French 
" tear ! " 

Mr. Randolph returned from Baltimore on the 21st and 
convened the committee. As they were assembling, he 
goes on to say, " the Secretary of the Treasury, (Mr. 
' Gallatin,) called him aside, and put into his hands a paper 
' headed ' Provision for the purchase of Florida.' The 
' chairman declared he would not vote a shilling ; he ex- 
' pressed himself disgusted with the whole of this procedure, 
' which he could not but consider as highly disingenuous ; 
' that the most scrupulous care had been taken to cover 
' the reputation of the administration, while Congress were 
' expected to act as though they had no character to lose ; 
* that whilst the official language of the Executive was con- 
' sistent and dignified, (quoting the words of the message,) 
' Congress was privately required to take upon itself the 
' odium of shrinking from the national honor, and national 
' defence, and of delivering the public purse to the first 
' cutthroat that demanded it. From the official communi- 
' cations — from the face of the record it would appear, that 
' the Executive had discharged his duty, in recommending 
' manly and vigorous measures, w hich he had been obliged 
' to abandon — and had been compelled hy Congress, to 
' pursue an opposite course, when in fact, Congress had 
' been acting, all the while, at Executive instigation. The 
' chairman further observed, that he did not understand this 
' double set of opinions and principles ; the one ostensible, 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 213 

" to go Upon the journals and before the piih lie ; the other 
" the efficient and real motives to action ; that he held true 
" wisdom and cunning to be utterly incompatible in the 
" conduct of great affairs : that he had strong objections to 
" the measure itself, but in the shape in which it was pre- 
" sented, his repugnance to it was insuperable. In a subse- 
" quent conversation with the President himself, in which 
" those objections were recapitulated, he declared that he 
" too had a character to support and principles to maintain, 
" and avowed his determined opposition to the whole 
" scheme." 

Mr. Randolph proceeds to state that a proposition, the 
avowed object of which was to enable the President to open 
a negotiation for Florida, now came upon the table. Mr. 
Randolph moved that the sum to be appropriated should be 
confined to that object, which was agreed upon. But after- 
wards, when the bill was formally brought in, this specific 
appropriation was rescinded by the House, and the money 
left at the entire discretion of the Executive, to apply to any 
extraordinary purpose of foreign intercourse whatever. To 
use his own words : 

" Mr. J. Randolph also moved, to limit the amount which 
" the government might stipulate to pay for the territory in 
" question ; upon the ground, that, if Congress were dis- 
" posed to acquire Florida by purchase, they should fix the 
" extent to which they were willing to go, and thereby 
" furnish our ministers with a safeguard against the rapacity 
" of France ; that there was no probability of our obtaining 
" the country for less, but every reason to believe, that, 
" without such a precaution on our part, she would extort 
" more. This motion was overruled. When the bill came 
'• under discussion, various objections were urged against it 
" by the same gentleman : Among others, that it was in 
" direct opposition to the views of the Executive, as expressed 
" in the President's official communication, [it was on this 
" occasion that General Varnum declared the measure to be 
" consonant to the secret wishes of the Executive:] that it was 
" a prostration of the national honor at the feet of our adver- 
" sary : that a concession so humiliating would paralyze our 
" efforts against Great Britain, in case the negotiation, then 
" and now pending between that government and ours, 
" should prove abortive : that a partial appropriation towards 



214 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



the purchase of Florida, without limiting the President to 
some specific amount, would give a previous sanction to 
any expense which he might incur for that object, and 
' which Congress would stand pledged to make good : that 
' if the Executive, acting entirely upon its own responsi- 
' bility, and exercising its acknowledged constitutional 
' powers, should negotiate for the purchase of Florida, the 
' House of Representatives would, in that case, be left free 
' to ratify, or annul the contract : but, that the course which 
' was proposed to be pursued, (and which eventually was 
' pursued,) would reduce the discretion of the Legislature 
' to a mere shadow : that at the ensuing session, Congress 
' would find itself, in relation to this subject, a deliberative 
' body but in name : that it could not, without a manifest 
' dereliction of its own principles, and, perhaps, without a 
' violation of public faith, refuse to sanction any treaty 
' entered into by the Executive, under the auspices of the 
' Legislature, and with powers so unlimited ; that however 
' great his confidence in the Chief Magistrate, he would 
' never consent to give any President so dangerous a proof 
'of it ; and that he would never preclude himself by any 
' previous sanction, from the unbiassed exercise of his judg- 

* ment, on measures which were thereafter to come before 
' him ; that the House had no official recommendation for 
' the step which they proposed to take ; on the contrary, it 

* was in direct opposition to the sentiments, as expressed 
' in the confidential message ; and that the responsibility 

* would be exclusively their own : that if he thought proper 

* to ask for an appropriation for the object, (the purchase of 
' Florida,) the responsibility of the measure would rest upon 
' him : but when the Legislature undertook to prescribe the 
' course which he should pursue, and which he had pledged 
' himself to pursue, the case was entirely changed : that 
' the House could have no channel through which it could 
' be made acquainted with the opinions of the Executive, 
' but such as was official, responsible, and known to the 
' constitution ; and that it was a prostitution of its high and 
' solemn functions, to act upon an unconstitutional sugges- 
' tion of the private wishes of the Executive, irresponsibly 
' announced, by an irresponsible individual, and in direct 

* hostility to his avowed opinions." 

After such a course of remarks, from a leading Jeffer- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 215 

sonian, a Virginian, a man who called himself a genuine 
republican, wiiat would one suppose to have been the fate 
among the representatives of a free and enlightened people, 
of Mr. Jefferson's double-dealing proposition ? A declara- 
tion of war against Spain ? Not at all. This would have 
been an admission, that the man of the people could have 
made a blunder in disposing of fifteen millions of dollars of 
the people's money. What then ? The Jetfersonian Ran- 
dolph tells us, — " The doors were closed, and the minority, 
" whose motives were impeached, and ichose motives icere 
" almost denounced, were voted down loithoiit debate." 

The two millions of dollars were voted ; they were placed 
at Mr. Jefferson's disposal, without limit, or restriction. 
They went in the United States ship Hornet, in specie, to 
the coffers of Napoleon. Not a foot of territory was thereby 
acquired ; if any thing, Napoleon was paid two millions for 
his kind interposition in preventing the people of the United 
States from knowing how far JNIr. Jefferson had, or had not 
been " honest, capable, and faithful to the constitution." 

What were Mr. Jefferson's motives in this transaction ? 
Was he moved by friendship for France ? By the desire to 
strengthen France against England 1 By unvvillincrness to 
vindicate the honor and independence of the country ao-ainst 
France? By the dread of showing, that the predictions of 
political adversaries had been verified 1 Was Mr. Jefferson 
willing to give aioay two millions of the people's money for 
all or any of these reasons ? However these questions may 
be answered is not, at this day, material, so that Mr. Jeffer- 
son's pretensions to the gratitude and respect of his coun- 
trymen be placed on the proper footing. Future generations 
are to judge of Thomas Jefferson's fame, when the history 
of these times shall have been written, and to decide for 
themselves what Mr. Jefferson was, as an economist, as a 
statesman, as a friend to his country ; and how he should 
rank as an honorable and an honest man. It makes no 
difference in forming such decision, that the unforeseen 
changes in FiUropean affairs made the purchase of Louisiana 
a fortunate measure for this country. The motives which 
then operated and the acts then done are the true and 
only materials from which that decision is to be formed. If 
Bonaparte had been successful ; if Spain had not been dis- 
tracted by civil commotions, what would Mr. Jefferson have 



216 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

acquired for his country, in exchange for his fifteen and his 
<wo millions of dollars? He certainly obtained nothing for 
the two millions sent to France. This latter was a mere 
donation, or rather tribute, and so it was considered at the 
time, even by John Randolph. 

If Mr. Jefferson was that abhorrer of duplicity, which he 
assumes to be, he would have told Congress, that the pur- 
chase of Louisiana was involved in difficulties ; that it would 
lead the country into a war with both France and Spain ; 
that he found himself in a very serious dilemma ; that Spain, 
by fraud and force, was completely under the control of 
Napoleon ; that if Congress would please to vote him a 
couple of millions to givt to Napoleon it would pacify him, 
and that he would keep Spain from showing her disgust and 
enmity ; and finally, that he should still seem to his coun- 
trymen to be the wise, the great, and the good Mr. Jeffer- 
son ! He knew his Congress and the power of party too 
well to find it necessary to disclose such truths. It is 
highly probable that Mr. Jefferson thought this manage- 
ment honest and proper, because it promoted the great ob- 
jects of his policy — it helped France — it hurt England — 
it kept federalism down by keeping himself 2{p. 



LETTER LI. 

October 25, 1833. 

Let it not be forgotten, that Mr. Jefferson began his presi- 
dency with the most gracious and conciliatory assurances, 
that we were all republicans, all federalists, and that univer- 
sal peace and harmony were to prevail under his paternal 
auspices; nor forgotten — that before the first year had 
elapsed, he denounced, in his smooth and ambiguous phrase- 
ology, the whole tenor of federal administration, and disclosed 
the intention of annulling and reversing, to the extent of his 
power, all that had been done. He conducts the government 
for eight years, retires — devotes his remnant of days to 
the same course of denunciation of federalists and federal- 
ism — and leaves, as his bequest to his countrymen, his tes- 
timony of the worthlessness and wickedness of his political 



ON PUDLIC CHARACTERS. 217 

adversaries ; and his assurances of his own honesty, ability, 
usefuhiess, and patriotism. Has he not thus invited a com- 
parison between himself, and those of his countrymen, whom 
he would transmit to posterity, as destitute of every good 
quality which he arrogates to himself? 

There is no part of Mr. Jefferson's administration in which 
his honesty and ability can be better tested, th;ui in the 
course of measu>res which led to the " long embargo," and 
by his perseverance in that extraordinary policy. 

It may not be an easy matter to develope Mr. .Jefferson's 
motives in this part of his political machinery. It is ever 
to be understood, that all Mr. Jefferson said and did had a 
double import ; and that it is as difficult, as painful, to seek 
out his real designs. In this matter of the embargo, it is 
unavoidable, in showing the truth, to recur to some previous 
circumstances. 

The state of this country, as affected by the conduct of 
the belligerents, was, no doubt, exceedingly embarrassing. 
Mr. Jefferson assumes, that he conducted honestly and wisely 
throughout. 'J'his is thought to be much otherwise, and 
this is the question to be tried. 

The United States complained of England : First. That 
Englmd interposed unjustly in the neutral commerce which 
the United States was authorized to carry on. This is a dry 
subject, and it would be uninteresting to go into details. 
Secondly. That the practice adopted by England of declar- 
ing ports, and even a whole coast, blockaded, when, in 
fact, no force was present to enforce the blockade, was un- 
just and oppressive to neutrals. Thirdly. The impressment 
of seamen from American vessels. This cause of complaint 
was much insisted on by Mr. Jefferson, who, nevertheless, 
cared very little about seamen or commerce, except for the 
revenue. 

It should be remembered, that the conflict between France 
and England was not one in which the parties had leisure 
to advert to the law of nations; nor to apply the principles 
which nations had respected in most of their wars. It was 
a conflict of destruction and extermination, in which Eng- 
land stood alone against the host of continental Europe. 

Napoleon resolved, that there should be no neutrals in 
that warfare. What would a patriotic and wise administra- 
tion of this remote and neutral country have done under 
19 



218 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

these circumstances? In 1806 Napoleon had pushed his 
conquests to the borders of Russia ; he had converted Alex- 
ander from an enemy into an ally. Mr. Fox, the firm and 
undeviating friend of America, so far as he could be so 
consistently with duty to his own country, was at the head 
of the British ministry. England could never be in circum- 
stances more favorable to an adjustment of all points in 
controversy. William Pinckney and James Monroe were 
plenipotentiaries in England. The treaty, made by Jay in 
1794, had expired in 1804 by its own limitation. The 
United States had been prosperous under that treaty. Mr. 
Jefferson refused to extend or renew it. 

Messrs. Pinckney and Monroe effected a treaty in 1806, 
on the two first points of difference, which they considered 
highly advantageous to this country. On the third, Mr. 
Jefferson required, that the American flag should protect o/Z 
who sailed under it, well knowing that England never could 
concede this, without abandoning her maritime force; and, 
while this point was a sine qua non, that no adjustment with 
England could be effected. Yet Pinckney and Monroe 
obtained assurances from the British ministry, though not in 
the form of a treaty, which they deemed satisfactory. The 
treaty was sent over, dated December 31, 1806. The 
Senate were in session when it was received, and because 
the British had not therein conceded, that all English, Irish, 
and Scotchmen, and all deserters from the British navy 
should be protected by the American flag, Mr. Jefferson did 
not condescend to lay this instrument before the Senate, but 
took on himself to reject it and send it back.* Now, was 
this honest, or wise in Mr. Jefferson 1 Does it or not show, 
that he was resolved, the parade of negotiation notwithstand- 
ing, to keep open the means of contention with Great Britain ? 
And was not his motive to contribute to the universal domin- 
ion of Napoleon, in Europe, including prostrate England? 
And was it wise for a repiihlic to extinguish, if it could, the 
only power that then stood between the hope of liberty and 
one universal despotism ? 

* Jefferson to Monroe, March 10, 1808. vol. iv. p. 107. " You com- 
" plain of the manner in which the treaty was received. Two of the 
" Senators inquired of me, whether it was my intention to detain them 
" on account of the treaty. I answered, it was not ; and that I should 
" not give them the trouble of deliberating on it." 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 219 

On the 21st of November, 1806, Napoleon, seated in the 
palace of the vanquished king of Prussia, at Berlin, issued 
his decree, by which he declared the British Isles in a state 
of blockade ; and, consequently, that every American vessel 
going to, or coming from these Isles, was subject to capture. 
This decree appears to have slept for some months. The 
same decree provided, that all merchandise belonging to 
England, or coming from its manufactories, or colonies, 
although belonging to neutrals, should be lawful prize on 
land. This provision was carried into effect. This was the 
phenomenon of a monarch, terrible to be sure on the land, 
but without commerce, and with an inferior and humbled 
marine force, announcing destruction to the trade of an 
insular people, whose territories he could not approach. 

Mr. Armstrong, minister of the United States in France, 
inquired of Champagny, French minister of foreign relations, 
(September 24, 1807,) what construction was to be given to 
this decree of 21st November; and whether it would " in- 
fract" the treaty between the United States and France? 
Champagny answered, (October 7th, 1807,) that " his ma- 
" jesty has considered every neutral vessel, going from Eng- 
" lish ports, with cargoes of English merchandise, or of 
" English origin, as lawfully seizable by French armed ves- 
" sels." " The decree of blockade has been now issued 
" eleven months. The principal powers of Europe, far from 
" protesting against its provisions, have adopted them." 
(AH these powers had either become vassals or obedient 
allies of his majesty.) " They have perceived, that its 
" execution must be complete, to render it more effectual ; 
" and it has seemed easy to reconcile the measure with the 
*' observance of treaties, especially at a time when the infrac- 
" tions, by England, of the rights of all maritime powers 
" render their interests common, and tend to unite them in 
" support of the same cause." 

The Berlin decree, then more than a year old; the inquiry 
of Mr. Armstrong, and the answer to it ; and the proclama- 
tion of the British government, (cut from a newspaper,) 
recalling British seamen, and prohibiting them from serving 
foreign princes and states, dated October 16th, 1807, were 
all the documents sent to Congress, proposing an unlimited 
embargo. These showed " the great and unceasing dangers 
" with which our vessels, our seamen, and merchandise 



220 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" were threatened on the high seas, and elsewhere, by the 
" belligerent powers of Europe!" 

It is true, that one of the senators from Massachusetts 
(whose conduct was afterwards publicly censured by resolves 
of the legislature, which induced him to resign) says in a 
public letter of 3Ist March, 1808, that the British orders (re- 
taliating the Berlin decree) of 11th November, 1807, were 
not communicated to Congress, with the President's message 
on the embargo, but that they were published in the National 
Intelligencer on the 18th December, 1807, the day on which 
the embargo message was sent to Congress. It is unac- 
countable, that these orders were not communicated, if Mr. 
Jefferson knew of their existence. The newspaper was a 
sufficient authority for the proclamation, and must liave been 
equally so for the orders. Can it be doubted, that the em- 
bargo was resolved on by Mr. Jefferson, before he knew of 
these orders ? The senator alluded to had, about this time, 
a most extraordinary illumination as to Mr. Jeffei son's 
purity and intelligence ; and an equally extraordinary per- 
ception of the worthlessness and wickedness of eminent men, 
with whom he had long thought and acted. The sudden 
confidence inspired by Mr. Jefferson led this senator to say, 
in his place, on the embargo message ; " The Presidtni has 
" recommended the measure on his high responsibility : I 
" loould not CONSIDER ; / would not deliberate ; / would 
" ACT. Doubtless the President possesses such further in- 
''formation as will justify the measure." Thus it would 
seem, that this senator and a majority of both Houses, at the 
mere dictation of Mr. Jefferson, were ready, without any 
deliberation, to impose the greatest evil on this country, 
which could be imposed short of a ruinous and hopeless war. 

No one who calmly considers this transaction can doubt, 
that it was conceived and executed for the purpose, and 
only purpose of enforcing, so far as this country could be 
useful to that end, the " continental system" of Napoleon. 

Now, is Mr. Jefferson entitled to the gratitude and respect 
of his countrymen, for proposing and executing this political 
measure ? 

There are three views in which this subject is to be con- 
sidered. First, as to France. The embargo was approved 
of by the government there, as a measure against the com- 
mon enemy. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 221 

Assuming that the embargo was laid for the purpose of 
aiding the continental system, it appears, that it did little 
towards that purpose ; and the whole evil fell upon American 
citizens. Mr. Armstrong writes from Paris ; August 30th, 
1808. " The embargo is a measure calculated above any 
" other to keep us whole, and keep us in peace ; but beyond 
" this you must not count upon it. Here it is not felt ; and 
" in England, (in the midst of the more interesting events of 
" the day,) it is forgotten." 

Secondly, as to England ; it was an interdiction of all 
commercial intercourse. But the injurious consequences to 
that country were entirely miscalculated. England supplied 
herself with cotton from other sources. The whole of the 
bread stuff, exported from the United States, was not more 
than one twentieth of the annual consumption of England, 
and not one half of this, probably, went to England. The 
West India Colonies turned their attention to their own 
resources. England found other markets for her products. 
If the embargo had continued as long as Mr. Jefferson 
intended it should, Europe would have forgotten, that there 
was such a country, on the globe, as the United States. 

Thirdly, the wisdom of this measure is to be tested by its 
effects within our own limits, and on the adjoining provinces 
of the English. 

First, it was an execution in effect, of the British procla- 
mation of .the IGtli October, 1807, recalling seamen. Des- 
titute of employment here, they found their way, through the 
British provinces, to their own country. It is not improba- 
ble, that many American sailors went in the same way, into 
the British service, in preference to starving at home. 

Secondly, the export and import business was carried 
on through the British provinces, greatly to their advantage, 
while the coasting trade of the United States was conducted 
in wagons. Flour could not be water-borne from the south, 
without an official permit, by some agent thereto authorized 
by Mr. Jefferson. 

Thirdly, the attempts to evade the embargo led to vin- 
dictive prosecutions, to the multiplication of spies and in- 
formers, and to an exercise of a tyranny of officers, great 
and small, which would hardly have been endured in Algiers, 
or Constantinople. 

Fourthly, the effect was demoralizing. Smuggling had 
19* 



222 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

hardly been known in these days ; it now became common. 
It was not thought to be morally wrong, to evade a law 
which all, but Jeffersonians, knew to be oppressive and 
ruinous ; and which the best informed men declared to be 
unconstitutional. It brought the administration of justice 
into contempt. Jury trials, on embargo bonds, became a 
mockery. 

A law so palpably against common sense, so oppressive 
and ruinous in its consequences, and which a maritime 
community might justifiably think ought to be evaded if it 
could be, called for further enforcing legislation, which 
resolved itself, in practice, into downright tyranny. After 
the evils of the embargo had been endured more than a 
year, and the public distress became insufferable, the remedy, 
invented by Mr. Jefferson and his advisers, was a new law, 
commonly called the enforcing act. This was passed on 
the 9th of January, 1809. 

At the session of the Massachusetts legislature in this 
month, petitions came in from various quarters, beseeching 
legislative interference. The community were exasperated 
to the highest degree. The manner in which these petitions 
were acted upon, by a federal legislature, may be some an- 
swer to Mr. Jefferson's calumnies on this party ; and some 
refutation to his often-repeated tale of a northern confeder- 
acy to sever the Union. 

At this time (January, 18G9,) the alarming state of public 
affairs had called into the legislature of Massachusetts the 
ablest men in the state. Among them was the same Chris- 
topher Gore, whom Mr. .Jefferson so pointedly mentions, as 
a monarchist and angloman ; and the same Harrison Gray 
Otis, whom he mentions in the same connexion ; and a 
majority of similar citizens in both branches. 

The following words are extracted from a report, made on 
the petitions which the embargo laws caused to be pre- 
sented : 

The petitioners' complaints are, 1st. " The unnecessary, 
" impolitic, and unconstitutional interdiction of commerce, 
" by the several acts of Congre.ss, falsely called embargo 
" laws. 2d. The apprehension that the nation is speedily 
" to be plunged into a war with Great Britain; and conse- 
" quently entangled in a fatal alliance with France. 3d. 
" Some peculiarly oppressive and unjust provisions of the 
" last embargo act, passed on the 9th of January, 1809." 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 223 

This report deserves the diligent study of citizens of a 
free republic, because it shows how easily a popular Presi- 
dent and an obedient Congress can establish an absolute 
despotism in the forms of law. If Congress had enacted, 
that Thomas Jeiferson may lawfully do anything that he 
may choose to do, to annihilate commerce, and to strip 
every citizen of his last shilling, who does not submit to 
his will, it would not have been a more real despotism. 

A Jetiersonian, of some distinction, who was a member 
of the House at that time, but who has probably grown 
wiser since, exercised his patriotism by proposing a series 
of resolutions, one of which was in these words : " That 
" in case it shall appear to Congress, that all fair attempts 
" to remove said orders and decrees by negotiation shall 
" have been exhausted, and they shall find ft necessary to 
" assume any other attitude of resistance, it will be the duty 
" of the whole people of the Commonwealth of Massachu- 
" setts to rally round the standard of their own nation and 
" its government, and to afford them their utmost support 
" by all constitutional means in their power." 

The meaning of the mover, both as to the nation in re- 
spect to whom an " attitude of resistance" was to be as- 
sumed ; and to that portion of the whole people, who were 
called on for their utmost support, was in no respect equiv- 
ocal. His resolutions were committed to five, of whom the 
mover was one, and Mr. Gore the chairman. The report 
drawn by Mr. Gore is one of the masterly efforts of that 
day, and the mover of the resolutions gave an opportunity 
to the whole people to read an exposition of the true char- 
acter and conduct of our national managers ; and also to 
know what sort of citizens Mr. Jefferson's " anglomen and 
monarchists " were. 

Thus it appears, that more than three years before the 
war actually came, it was intended by one party, dreaded 
by the other ; and that nothing was waited for but the fa- 
vorable moment, which did not occur, as will hereafter be 
shown, until Napoleon was duly prepared for it. 

The picture drawn by this report of the state of the 
country will be recognised as true and faithful, by all who 
can remember these days. The following is an extract 
from it : 

" In this condition of unexampled prosperity at home, 



224 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" peace and consideration abroad, our present rulers were 
" called to the administration of public affairs ; and what 
" has been the fruit of their labors ? Let the following facts 
" answer : 

" Our agriculture is discouraged. 

" The fisheries abandoned. 

" Navigation forbidden. 

" Our commerce at home restrained, if not annihilated. 

" Our commerce abroad cut off. 

" Our navy sold, dismantled, or degraded to the service 
" of cutters or gun-boats. 

" The revenue extinguished. 

" The course of justice interrupted. 

" The military power exalted above the civil ; and by 
" setting up a standard of political faith unknown to the 
" constitution, the nation is weakened by internal animosi- 
" ties and division, at the moment when it is unnecessarily 
" and improvidently exposed to war with Great Britain, 
" France, and Spain." 

Such a report as this was a very sufficient reason with 
Mr. Jefferson, for regarding Mr. Gore as a " monarchist 
and ansloman." 



LETTER LII. 

November 6, 1833. 

Caleb Strong was Governor of Massachusetts from 
May 1800 to May 1807. Under the influence of Mr Jeffer- 
son, party contentions had become excessively bitter. There 
was not only the common struggle for power, from which 
even absolute despotisms are not exempt, and which is in- 
separable from all elective governments, but the politics and 
contentions in Europe were artfully intermingled with all 
the elections which occurred in the United States. The 
daily journals not only discussed qualifications for office, but 
descended to personalities and calumnies, which might in- 
duce one to suppose, that the Americans had been astute in 
selecting the worst men of their nation for public trust. It 
is in such paper warfare as in that of physical force; " he 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 225 

" is to be considered the author of the war, who causes the 
" first blow to be struck." 

At the election in 1807, the candidates for Governor were 
Caleb Strong and James Sullivan ; the latter was chosen in 
a severely contested election. He was elected the next 
year, and continued in office till his decease, which liappen- 
ed on the 10th Dec. 1S08. The following notice of him 
is takeft from the American Encyclopidia. The biographi- 
cal sketches of that work are attributed to 3Jr. Hubert 
Wah/i. 

" James Sullivan, brother of the foregoing," (John Sul- 
livan, an officer of the revolutionary war, and afterwards 
Governor of New Hampshire,) " was born at Berwick, 
" Maine, April 22, 1744. He was educated entirely by his 
" father. The fracture of a limb in enrly life caused him 
" to turn his attention to legal pursuits, instead of embra- 
" cing the military career, for which he had been destined. 
" After studying with his brother. General Sullivan, he was 
"admitted to tlie bar, and soon rose to celebrity. He was 
" appointed King's attorney for the district in which he re- 
" sided ; but the prospects of advancement, which he might 
" reasonably have entertained, did not prevent him from 
" taking an early and decided part on the side of his coun- 
" try, at the commencement of the revolutionary struggle. 
" Being a member of the provincial Congress in 1775, he 
"was intrusted, together with two other gentlemen, with a 
" difficult commission to Ticonderoga, which was executed 
" in a very satisfactory manner. In the following year he 
" was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court. In 1779 
"-80, he was a member of the Convention, which framed 
" the constitution of the State. In February, 1782, he re- 
" signed his judgeship, and returned to the bar. In 1783 
" he was chosen member of Congress, and in the following 
" year was one of the commissioners in settling the contro- 
" versy between Massachusetts and New York, respecting 
" their claims to the western lands. He was repeatedly 
"elected representative of Boston, in the legislature. In 
" 1787 he was member of the Executive Council and Judge 
" of Probate for Suffolk ; and in 1790 was appointed At- 
" torney General, in which office he continued till June, 
" 1807, when he was elevated to the chief magistracy of 
" the Commonwealth. He was subsequently appointed by 



226 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" President Washincrton awent under the fifth article of the 
" British treaty, for settlnig the boundaries between the 
" United States and the British provinces.* He was a 
" second time chosen Governor of the state ; but soon after 
" his health became enfeebled, and on the 10th of December, 
" 1808, he died, in the 65th year of his age. Governor 
" Sullivan was the projector of the Middlesex canal. Amidst 
" his professional and political pursuits, he found time to 
" prepare several works, mostly on legal and political sub- 
" jects. One is a history of the District of Maine, which 
" is a creditable monument of his industry and research." 

On' the decease of Governor Sullivan, executive power 
devolved on Lieutenant Governor Levi Lincoln, (the same 
gentleman who was Attorney General of the United States 
in 1801,) who exercised this power until the next election. 
In his speech to the legislature at the January session, 
1809, he noticed the event which had made it his duty to 
address that assembly. At this time the executive council 
was composed entirely of federalists, among whom was 
George Cabot. There were federal majorities in both 
branches of the legislature. The House, in its answer to 
the speech, say of the deceased Chief Magistrate : 

" The affecting dispensation of Divine Providence, which 
" has deprived this commonwealth of its Commander-in- 
" chief, cannot be more sincerely deplored by your Honor, 
" than it is sensibly felt by the House of Representatives. 
*' Elevated to the chair of state, in opposition to the political 
" sentiments of a majority of the Legislature, we are happy 
" to declare, that the late Governor Sullivan, in the dis- 
" charge of his high and important trust, appeared rather 
" desirous to be the Governor of Massachusetts, than the 
" leader of a party, or the vindictive champion of its cause." 

It is not to be disputed, that Governor Sullivan was much 
dissatisfied with the course of policy adopted by the leaders 
of the party to which he belonged. He was so, especially, 
with the embargo, and with the measures pursued to enforce 
that system. It was the pleasure of Mr. Jefferson, that no 
citizen should import a barrel of flour from southern states. 



* There is an error here, as to the time of this appointment. It wa! 
in 1796, during Washington's second presidency, and continued twc 
years. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 227 

without having permission from an agent appointed by him- 
self. Governor Sullivan was intrusted witli granting such 
permissions for the whole state, under the belief that he 
would make party allegiance his rule in dispensing his 
favors. He gave permits to every one who asked for them, 
and Mr. Jefferson complains in one of his published letters 
to Lieutenant Governor Lincoln, that permits were not given 
to those of the true faith only, but to every body, and were 
openly sold in the southern markets. He soon dechned the 
honor of being Mr. Jefferson's agent in this parly monopoly. 

Governor Sullivan had the disadvantage of an inferior 
education, and of being drawn into an active agency in 
public affairs at an early period of life. He was a man of 
extraordinary industry and energy, and did much to remedy 
the defects of early education by his own exertions. He 
lived in troublesome times, and when no man of any emi- 
nence could avoid being of^ some party, nor escape the feel- 
ings which such times necessarily excite. In private life he 
was social and hospitable. As a public man he was diligent 
and ardent. He was a member of many societies, and 
president of several of them. Judging from the tenor of his 
life, one would think that no honors could compensate for 
the toils and anxieties of public station. 

When Lieutenant Governor Lincoln thus came to the 
exercise of executive power, the long embargo had been in 
operation more than twelve months. This magistrate shows 
himself, in the speech which he made at the opening of the 
session, heartily disposed to compensate the people of Massa- 
chusetts for the defect of loyalty to Mr. Jefferson, disclosed 
in the administration of the magistrate whose place he filled. 
There was a new call for his zeal in the abominable enforc- 
ing act (of the embargo) passed on the Dth of the same 
month of January. 

His Honor made a long and elaborate speech to a federal 
legislature, and seemed not to have been aware, that he laid 
himself open to be ansivcrcd in a manner which became a 
yet free but indignant community. 

Tiiere are two kinds of despotism: L That which one 
man may exercise, who has united in himself all the powers 
of government ; 2. That which is exercised by a popular 
Chief, in the name o{ liberty and the people. The latter is 
by far the most terrible, because it implies, that the physical 



228 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



strength, as well as the mere forms of law, is arranged to 
sustain it. It is the more dangerous too, because those who 
exercise power under such despotism really believe, that 
they are performing their duties in counteracting the ene- 
mies of the republic. Although the clear tendency of Lieu- 
tenant Governor Lincoln's measures, in sustaining Mr. 
Jefferson, deserved no better name than tyranny, since it 
was in effect to establish the power of one man, and to 
deprive free citizens of the right to discuss the measures of 
public agents, chosen by themselves and responsible to them, 
yet such a design is not to be attributed to him. He may 
be supposed to have considered himself to be doing what it 
was his duty to do, as a republican chief magistrate. Yet no 
one can read his speech to the legislature of Massachusetts, 
(January, 18J9,) without perceiving, that the doctrines 
therein contained would, if carried but little further, have 
submitted the United States to the mere will of Thomas 
Jefferson and his adherents. His Honor very plainly inti- 
mates his own belief to be in perfect conformity with that 
conviction which Mr. Jefferson's fourth volume discloses, 
viz. That Massachusetts was the hot-bed of disaffection, 
disunion, and traitorous designs. His Honor spoke to men 
who understood him, and who felt indignant at his insinua- 
tions. They should rather have felt sorrow and compassion 
for the delusions of party, while they repelled, (as the follow- 
ing extracts from their answers will show they did,) his 
Honor's unfounded suggestions. 

The Senate (among other things) said: " We are happy 
" to accord with you, ' that our enemies alone could have 
" represented the New England states, as prepared for op- 
" position to the authority of the laiv, and ripening for a 
" secession, from the Union.' * The people of New England 
" perfectly understand the distinction between the eonstitu- 
" iion and the administration. An administration may 
" become corrupt, but the people will remain pure. "Who 
" shall decide when the public functionaries abuse their 
" trust ? The ' meetings,' to which you allude, have been 
" attended by men second to none in the United States, for 
" their legal and political knowledge, for their love of order, 



* Words in italics, quoted fi-om the Lieutenant Governors's speech, 
and by him applied to Jeilerson's administration. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 229 

" and for their patriotism. Can such assemblies of citizens 
"merit censure in a republican government? Can it be 
" necessary to remind your Honor, that the administration 
" of Washington produced precisely the reverse of the pic- 
" tare, which you have drawn so much to the life ? ' IV/unce 
" then the causes of distrust, jealousy, altercations, and bit- 
" ter aspersions ' upon that great and good man, and upon 
" all who were attached to his measures ? ' Whence the 
" ever to be regretted indiscretions, suddenness, and individ- 
" ual rashness, ichich denounced' an administration, that 
" safely guided the people to prosperity and glory, amidst 
" great and impending dangers? We have seen as little of 
" the spirit as oi policy, in the embargo system. We know 
'•' that the Emperor approves, if he did not dictate the 
" measure. We know that Great Britain receives immense 
" advantage from the surrender to her of the whole trade 
" of the world ; and we cannot imagine why the people 
" should be called on to * endure privations,' unless the ad- 
" ministration, having failed to operate on the fears, or 
" interests of the ' warring powers,' expect, ere long, to 
" obtain relief from their compassion." 

The House of Representatives, (among other things,) 
answered : " The legislature and people of Massachusetts 
" now are, and have ever been firmly and sincerely attached 
" to the Union of the states ; and there is no sacrifice they 
" have not been, and are not now willing to submit to, in 
" order to preserve the same according to its original pur- 
" pose. Of this truth your Honor must be convinced. We 
" do not appeal to the unvarying conduct of our citizens 
" during the glorious administrations of Washington and 
" Adams, when the patriotic endeavors of our statesmen, 
<' under the most perplexing embarrassments, pursued and 
" secured the interests and honor of the nation. But we 
'■' can appeal to the patience with which our citizens have 
" borne the administration of those, whose boast it has been 
" to proscribe all the measures of their predecessors, and 
" most of the men whose talents and virtues had assisted in 
" securing to the United States the blessings of a free gov- 
" ernmeut. It ought not to be a matter of surprise that men, 
" who, either on the floor of Congress, or elsewhere, have 
" adopted measures hostile to the Union and subversive of 
" its principles, should endeavor to brand with the calumny 
20 



230 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



" you mention, the efforts of those who sincerely aim at pre- 
" serving the constitution, by demonstrating the tendency 
'* of their acts ; and who studiously exert themselves to pre- 
" vent a dissolution of the federal compact, by stating the 
" dangers of such an event. We cannot agree with your 
" Honor, that in a free country there is any stage at 
" which the constitutionality of an act may be no longer 
" open to discussion and debate ; at least, it is only on the 
" high road to despotism, that such stages can be found. 
" Were it true, that the measures of government, once 
" passed into an act, the constitutionality of that act is 
" stamped with the seal of infallibility, and is no longer a 
" subject for the deliberation, or remonstrance of the citizen, 
" to what monstrous lengths might not an administration 
" carry its power ! It has only to pass through rapid read- 
*' ings and midnight sessions, without allowing time for 
" reflection or debate, to the final enactment of a bill, and 
" even before the people are informed of the intentions of 
"their rulers; and then their chains are riveted, and the 
" right of complaint denied them." 

It may be inferred, from these extracts, what the charac- 
ter and tendency of the republican Lieutenant Governor's 
speech was ; and with what constitutional and honorable 
spirit it was met by the true friends of the national union. 
The long answer of the House of Representatives is full of 
real republican principles ; such principles as must govern 
in this land, or the doctrines of the Lieutenant Governor 
must be admitted, namely, that the administration is every 
thing ; and their electors nothing. 

These events occurred about twenty-four years ago. It 
was then the Jeffersonian creed, that the executive and 
legislative, united, were supreme ; do what they might, the 
people must submit. This was received by freemen with 
indignation, and the tyrants retraced their steps. But now, 
in 1834, we have made an astonishing advance ! One man 
has dared to do, in the character of President of a free 
republic, what no monarch in all Europe, crowned in right 
of hereditary succession, would venture to propose ; and a 
majority of the House of Representatives look on and 
applaud ! 

While Lieutenant Governor Lincoln was at the head of 
the Commonwealth, he had not only the difficult duty of 



ON PUULIC CHARACTERS. 231 

vindicating Mr. Jefferson's measures generally, but the 
highly responsible and special one of doing his will under 
the enforcing act. He took an extraordinary course to 
effect this object. The Governor, as Commander-in-chief, 
issues, according to military propriety, his orders throuwh 
the Adjutant General to the Major Generals of divisions, 
and requires of them to detach such force as occasions call 
for. Such Chief cannot be supposed to know, officially, 
that there can be any difference of opinion among those 
who bear arms, and are subject to orders of superiors. 
All are equally bound to render any legal service which is 
required. But his Honor dispensed with all such forms, 
and took the unprecedented course of writing to such sub- 
altern officers as he, in some way, had found out to be good 
sound Jeffersonians, and passed by all superiors, whom he, 
in some way, knew, or suspected to be of a different order. 
His circular, on this occasion, is worth transcribing as a 
curious instance of what a genuine republican Chief Mag- 
istrate may sometimes think to be his duty. 

" The President of the United States has directed the 
' Secretary of War to request me to appoint some officer of 
' the militia, of knoicn respect for the laics, in, or near 
' each port of entry, in this state, with orders, when applied 
' to by the Collector of the District, to assemble a suffi- 
' cient force of his militia, and to employ them efficaciously, 
' to maintain the authority of the laws respecting the em- 
' bargo. The President is pecidiarly anxious, that the 
' officers selected should he such, who can be best confided 
' in to exercise so serious a potver. Recollecting, that in 
' the happy government established by the American peo- 
' pie, the character of the citizen is not lost in that of the 
' soldier ; and that coolness, prompt obedience, and a 
' sacred regard to the rights of society and individuals 
' are essential to both ; you zoill duly appreciate this oppov' 
' tunity of serving your country, and of even increasing 
' the confidence she has placed in you." 

This service was force by one class of citizens, distin- 
guished by a political creed and by subserviency to 
Thomas Jefferson's will, against another class who consid- 
ered him as depriving them of rights guaranteed by the 
constitution, with no other motive than to aid Napoleon to 
enforce his continental system. The House of Represen- 



232 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

tatives very properly inquired into this alarming use of 
power; — and resolved, that these orders were irregular, 
illegal, and inconsistent with the principles of the constitu- 
tion ; tending to the destruction of military discipline ; an 
infringement of the rights and derogatory to the honor of 
both officers and soldiers ; subversive of the militia system, 
and highly dangerous to the liberties of the people. 

The legality of this measure and its effect can best be 
comprehended, by imagining selected bodies of militia to be 
placed at the disposal of President Jackson's collectors of 
ports ; and by imagining, that these bodies might be called 
into action against the citizens, whenever these collectors 
might be of opinion, that their agency was necessary in 
maintaining the majesty of the President's will ! 



LETTER LIII. 

November 10, 1833. 

The experience hitherto had under our republican insti- 
tutions clearly shows, that the only possible mode of pre- 
serving these institutions is to awaken the whole community 
to the progress of usurpation, and to rely on the people to 
save themselves. The Jeffersonian delusion had taken such 
absolute control over the reason of a majority of the nation, 
that there was no hope of dispelling it. But this was other- 
wise in some of the states, and so proved to be in Massa- 
chusetts. The effect of the embargo and the tyrannical 
measures adopted to enforce it, the poverty and distress 
which were daily increasing, compelled the citizens to in- 
vestigate causes and to think for themselves. They were 
able to distinguish between the reed friends and supporters 
of constitutional policy, and those who pretended to be 
such. 

In April, 1809, Christopher Gore was supported by the 
federalists for the office of Governor and was elected. He 
is the same citizen who is mentioned in Mr. Jefferson's 
fourth volume, as one of the most eminent of the monar- 
chists and anglomen. The people of Massachusetts, among 
whom he may be presumed to have been better known, than 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 233 

he could have been to Mr. Jefferson, did not so regard him. 
Whether Mr. Jefferson was right, or whether Mr. Gore was 
a political hypocrite, may depend, in part, on the im- 
pression which the following extract from his speech to 
the legislature may make. It was delivered on the 7th of 
June, 1809. 

" Educated at a tinie when the principles of civil liberty 
" were investigated and discussed by the sages and heroes, 
" who conceived and accomplished our glorious revolution, 
" my strongest and earliest impressions were in favor of that 
" well regulated freedom which is secured by our excellent 
" constitution. An absence of eight years in the service of 
" our common country, by the opportunity it afforded of 
" remarking the circumstances of other nations, served to 
" confirm, and if possible to increase the respect and rever- 
" ence I had previously imbibed for the civil and religious 
" institutions of my native state. A comparison of our 
" condition with that of any other people must convince 
" every one of the enviable situation in which we are placed, 
" and of the superior means afforded to us, for enjoying all 
" the blessings of which social life is capable." 

" To adopt a rule, that no man is to be selected for office, 
" unless he be of the particular sect, or party of those who 
" administer the government, or subscribe to their political 
" creed, is to establish a principle, not only not recognised 
" by, but directly repugnant to the constitution. It is, more- 
" over, highly unjust to the people, as it narrows the choice 
" for office, and may frequently exclude from their service 
" the purest integrity, the higliest capabilities, and the best 
" dispositions. It is considering government as instituted, 
" not for the common good, but for the exclusive advantage 
" of an association, or party of men." 

" The history of the United States and of this state has 
" ever shown Massachusetts submitting with cheerfulness to 
" the most important sacrifices, for supporting the common 
" cause and general interests of the Union ; and this 
" without the smallest disposition to dictate to the other 
" members of the confederacy. Under the distressing cir- 
" cumstances of the last year, the legislature did what duty 
" rendered indispensable, and surely they did no more." 
20* 



334 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



Extract from the answer of the House of Representatives. 

" We feel sincere pleasure in the assurance of the observ- 
" ance, on the part of your Excellency, of those great funda- 
" mental principles of the constitution, and of all republican 
" governments, which ought never to have been denied in ar- 
" gunient, nor violated in practice. We rejoice in a recurrence 
" to the first principles of the social compact : that all power 
" resides in the whole people ; that government is instituted 
" for their ' protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness,' 
" and ' not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any 
" one man, family, or class of men ; ' in short, that offices 
" of honor, or emolument are not intended to strengthen 
" the hands of party, but to promote the public good. They 
" ought not to be bestowed as bribes, to induce, or reward 
" political fidelity, or apostacy ; but to place the public in- 
" lerest in the charge of men, whose principles and feelings 
" secure their interest in its support." 

In this political year, commencing the last Wednesday in 
May, 1SU9, among the names which appear in the executive 
and legislative departments, are the following : 

Chuistophkr Gori;, Governor ; David Cobb, Lieutenant 
Governor ; Edward H. Robbins, Artemas Ward, Thomas 
Dwight, Ephraim Spooner, Prentiss JNlellen, Oliver Fiske, 
Nathaniel Dummer, William Prescott, Daniel Dewey, mem- 
bers of the Executive Council. 

Harrison Gray Otis, President of the Senate, William 
Spooner, John Phillips, Peter C. Brooks, John Welles, Suf- 
folk Senators; and a majority in that branch of men of like 
character. 

Timothy Bigelmc, Speaker of the House. Among the 
members who represented Boston, were William Brown, 
William Phillips, Daniel Sargent, Benjamin Russell, John 
Parker, Jo.seph Head, Charles Jackson, Yv'illiam H. Surn- 
ner, Daniel Messenger, Warren Dutton, John T. Apthorp, 
and twenty-six others of like character and of various 
vocations ; and a majority of men of like standing in the 
House. 

It was at this time, that Mr. J. Q,. Adams imagined, that 
a dangerous conspiracy was going on to sever the Union, 
and establish a northern confederacy. As these citizens, 
who have been mentioned, and many others of like charac- 
ter and condition, were those who directed the tone of 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 235 

public sentiment at that time, certainly Mr. Adams would 
find some of his disiinionists and conspirators among those 
who have been named.* It belongs to him to point tliem 
out, and to compare the opinions by them publicly expressed 
with any other opinions, which he knouis them to have ex- 
pressed or entertained. 

Those of the seat of government have been mentioned, 
rather than others from other parts of the state, because it 
appears, that Mr. Madison particularly alludes to this " seat 
of government " as the seat of conspiracy. 

Of those who have been mentioned as members of the 
executive, or legislative branches, Mr. Gore and Mr. Otis 
will be elsewhere mentioned. There are others whom it 
may be proper to notice more particularly here. General 
Cobb, who was Lieutenant Governor, had been a member 
of General Washington's military family during most of the 
war. He was a physician ; and after the peace he resumed 
his practice at Taunton, and was Chief Justice of the Court 
of Common Pleas. In the times when the insurrectionary 
spirit displayed itself in his county, he was Major General 
of the militia, as well as Chief Justice of the Court. He 
left the Bench to exercise his military command ; and de- 
clared, that " he would sit as a Judge, or die as a General." 

General Cobb was a man of middle stature and of full 
person ; his face was large, and expressive of a manly and 
resolute heart. He was frank, sincere, and honorable ; and 
expressed his opinions without reserve; and, thinking as he 
did of the opponents of Washington and of the friends of 
Jefferson, he sometimes gave opportunity to his political 
adversaries to quote his sayings to their advantage. But a 
more pure, kind-hearted, honorable gentleman than General 



■■ There is one man, yet among the living, who has done more good 
to the American nation, than some who have called forth extravagant 
eulogies, or than one man, who has been figured in bronze and mar- 
ble. A sensible, well-informed, diligent Editor has a powerful 
influence on public opinion. Benjamin Russell, Editor of the Centi- 
nel for nearly half a century, was not surpassed, if equalled, by any 
man in that vocation, since the revolutionary war. He was the best 
commentator on the belligerent events of Europe, that there then 
was in the United States. He was well versed in the character of 
men and in the bearing of party policy at home. His long continued 
paper is an historical treasure. Benjamin Russell deserves well of 
his country. 



236 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Cobb never lived. He was full of good social feeling, and 
was welcome and gratefully received in the circles, where 
the rational enjoyment of whatsoever is pleasant to the 
senses derives a value from the interchange of intellectual 
sympathy. He prolonged his life by a course of remarkable 
abstinence, after having been the delight of social circles 
for no small portion of his days. He was a true Washing- 
ton-man in all his political feelings, and saw, with sincere 
regret, the decline and probable extinction of the true prin- 
ciples of republicanism, which he had devoted the meridian 
of his life to secure and preserve. 

Timothy Bigdoio, for a series of years Speaker of the 
House, was a lawyer of eminence in the county of Middle- 
sex. Perhaps no man has spoken to so many juries as Mr. 
Bigelow. He was most faithfully devoted to the cause of 
the revolution. His earliest impressions were associated 
with the great contest for liberty. He used to speak with 
enthusiasm of the national constitution and of the Union, 
as consequences of success. He was a kind-hearted, friendly 
man, and had many affectionate friends. He was distin- 
guished as a man of taste ; towards the close of his life, he 
took great delight in horticultural employments, and may 
claim with others the merit of exciting the demand for this 
gratiiication, which has now attained an eminence, asso- 
ciated no less with science than with pleasure. Mr. Bigelow 
was a tall man, well formed, and of courteous manners. 
He had the narrative gift in an eminent degree ; which 
among other qualities made society with him exceedingly 
grateful. 

To one who looks back on what the social world was, it 
seems as though money-making and selfishness had frozen 
the currents of the heart. That frank, friendly, social, hos- 
pitable intercourse, which was once the delight of this land, 
is gone (it is feared) for ever; and the cold, calculating 
spirit of accumulation, or the worthless emulation of show 
and splendor has succeeded. 

Among those who have been mentioned, as participating 
in the government of 1809, there are some yet alive. It 
would be grateful to speak of them as they should be spoken 
of, as well as of some, who are not here to see the withering 
of the hopes which they delighted to cherish. In the first 
case, there is the risk of offending men who are not solicitous 



ON PUBLIC CIIAUACTERS. 237 

of the world's notice; and in the second, the field is un- 
limited, and there must be a stopping-place somewhere. 

It might have been supposed, that intelligent and ftir- 
sighted merchants would have been better judges of their 
own interests, than southern planters, or than lawyers, or 
cultivators from the new regions of the tocat. Good or 
bad judges, they condemned, almost with unanimity, the 
policy of Jefferson and Madison. Those, who had the most 
to lose, or to gain in commercial enterprises, were the most 
decided in their condemnation. Few of the eminent mer- 
chants of those days are here to lament similar grievances 
and follies of the present day. Among those who are no 
longer among us, and who might be distinguished as intelli- 
gent and accomplished men of business, were James Perkins 
and Thomas C. Ainory. The former and his partner, 
Thomas H. Perkins, were the first Canton merchants in 
the world. Thomas C. Amory was extensively eno-ao-ed 
in very varied commerce on the ocean. To these might 
be added hundreds of others, who were large ship-owners. 
None of these could discern any thing in the commercial 
measures of the administration, but defeat of their plans 
and ruin to their prospects. 

There can be little doubt, that the care and solicitude 
concerning ships, merchandise, and seamen manifested by 
Jefferson and Madison were mere pretences. Neither of 
these gentlemen differed in opinion from Napoleon on such 
subjects; and he fully accorded with the Romans, (as shown 
by Cicero,) in placing merchants among the lower orders of 
society. These friends of liberty seem not to have known, 
that commerce and liberty are twin sisters ; that merchants 
have been the true patrons of the arts, of science, of litera- 
ture; the munificent supporters of public and charitable 
institutions ; the ornament of social life. Even in our own 
little community, how many instances are fresh in memory 
of noble liberality among merchants. In the same street, 
are seen two spacious buildings, formerly the dwelling-places 
of two brothers,, one of them the gift of one of these brothers 
to the Athenaeum,* the other the gift of the other brother, 
as an asylum for the blind ; t gifts, not postponed to the 
time when the owner and his property must part for ever, 

* James Perkins. t Thomas Handasyd Perkins. 



238 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



but while the donors were in full life. To commerce also 
are we indebted for one of the most valued charities in the 
nation. A merchant bequeathed an bundled thousand dol- 
lars to the Lunatic Hospital.* These are the fruits of that 
commercial dealing which Jefferson and Madison heartily 
despised. There will be found, in a subsequent page, some 
notice of Jefferson's opinions on merchants ; and no differ- 
ence is known between his opinions and those of Madison.t 
The embargo having been removed, and the busy citizens 
of Massachusetts having engaged in their accustomed voca- 
tions ; and thinking more of these, than of political dangers 
and duties, an opportunity again occurred for the friends of 
the people to take a majority into their custody. Eibridge 
Gerry was by them nominated against Governor Gore, and 
was the successful candidate. He was the Chief Magistrate 
from May, 1810, to May, 1812. As there is nothing to be 
said of his administration, which one could take pleasure in 
saying ; so the pain of speaking of it as it may have deserved 
may be avoided. When the time comes for writing the 
sober History of Massachusetts, the historian will find abun- 
dant materials for his work in these two years ; and the ex- 
ercise of party power in districting the commonwealth for 
the choice of senators is particularly commended to his 
notice. He will find the English language enriched by a 
new term, (Gerrymandering,) which may often find a suit- 
able application, when the origin of it may have been forgot- 
ten. He may find it in the patriotic labors of the two years 
in which Mr. Gerry was Governor of Massachusetts. 

* John McLean. 

t It cannot be unacceptable to any one who knew Thomas C. 
Amory, to offer a passing tiibute to his meinoiy. He died in Novem- 
ber, 1812, at the age of 44. He was a tall man, of amiable and intelli- 
gent countenance, of frank and courteous manneis, of clear, sound 
judgment, and executive capacity. Such qualities may not distinguish 
him from some others ; but he had qualities, which, if they did not so 
distinguish him, placed him high among those, who are so foi-tunate as 
to have the like ones. He had as kind and friendly a heart, as ever 
beat in human bosom. He was considerate of others ; the friend and 
the visiter of the sorrowful and unfortunate ; and of noble generosity. 
He was eminently hospitable, and one of the most acceptable compan- 
ions that ever adorned a social circle. His death, in the zenith of man- 
hood, was a mournful bereavement. At this long distance from that 
event, survivors remember him with a freshness of iieeling and interest, 
which makes it seem as the loss of yesterday. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 239 

The dark and mysterious administration of Mr. Madison, 
the able and enlightened discussions of the press, the exer- 
cise of power in Governor Gerry's time, the apprehension of 
war with Great Britain and of alliance with France again 
called the attention of our community, from their private 
affairs to the duties of citizens. It was a relief and gratifi- 
cation, hardly to be described, to one portion- of the people 
of this state, that they were to have, at the head of the Com- 
monwealth, the calm, steady, constitutional republican, 
Caleb Strong, in the trying times that were expected, and 
not Elhridge Gerry. If this change had not occurred, the 
condition of Massachusetts and of its militia cannot be 
contemplated without dismay. There must have been a 
civil war, or the militia would have gone to lay their bones 
in Canada, in the fruitless, hopeless attempt to conquer that 
country ; while the seaboard would have remained subject 
to all the miseries, which a vindictive foe could inflict. 



LETTER LIV. 

November 16, 1833. 

Mr. Jefferson's political life and his embargo system 
terminated about the same time, the former on the fourth, 
the latter on the fifteenth of March, 1809. The American 
people resumed their industry as well as they could, under 
the remaining embarrassments of non-intercouse with Eng- 
land, which was a serious one, and with France, which was 
believed to be a mere show of impartiality and of little real 
importance. Mr. Jefferson retired to Monticello. In what 
manner Mr. Jefferson disposed of himself, during the seven- 
teen years through which his life was prolonged, he has 
permitted the world to know from his volumes. With the 
help of these it may be proper to inquire into his real motives 
for proposing and insisting on the continuance of the em- 
bargo, because in the sweeping demand of his idolizers for 
gratitude and admiration, this measure makes a prominent 
figure in the acts on which that demand must be founded. 

The declared motive for this measure, (unprecedented 
any where in the world, unless in China,) as expressed in 



240 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

the message proposing it, was to protect " our vessels, our 
" seamen, and merchandise from the belligerents." No 
one can know the real motive of Mr. Jeffeison so well as 
himself; and he says, that the motive assigned in his mes- 
sage was not the real one. 

On the 25th of December, 1825, he wrote a letter to his 
faithful friend, William B. Giles, (vol. iv. p. 519,) in which 
he gives an account of an interview with Mr. John Quincy 
Adams. He therein sets forth, that Mr. Adams " spoke of 
" the dissatisfaction of the Eastern portion of our confed- 
" eracy with the restraints of the embargo then existing, 
'* and their restlessness under it. That there was nothing 
" which might not be attempted to rid themseh es of it : 
" that he had information, of the most unquestionable cer- 
" tainty, that certain citizens of the Eastern states, (I think 
" he named Massachusetts particularly,) were in negotiation 
" with agents of the British government, the object of which 
" was an agreement, that New England should take no 
*' farther part in the war then going on," &lc. [Mr. Jef- 
ferson then goes on about the war, which had not yet 
happened ; and, perhaps, alludes to some other jmtriotic 
communication of Mr. Adams about his fellow-citizens of 
Massachusetts.] " I expressed," (says Mr. Jefferson,) " a 
'just sense of the merit of this information, and of the im- 
' portance of this disclosure to the safety and even the 
' salvation of our country : and, however reluctant I was to 
' abandon the measure, (a measure, which, persevered in 
' a little longer, we had subsequent and satisfactory assur- 
' ance, would have effected its object completely,) from that 
' moment, and influenced by that information, I saw the 
' necessity of abandoning it ; and instead of effecting our 
'purpose by this peaceful tceapon, tee must Jig lit it out, or 
' break the Union." 

What was the object to be completely effected ? Certainly 
not the preservation of vessels, seamen, and merchandise, 
for that was effected when the embargo was first imposed. 
Was it to compel England to renounce her blockades, and 
to cease to violate our neutral rights? These objects were 
obtained by the treaty of 1806, which Mr. Jefferson rejected. 
Was it to prevent impressment ? How would the continu- 
ance of the embargo " a little longer " have effected that 
object? This matter had been arranged with Pinckney and 



ON PUBLIC CIIAnACTEUa. 241 

Monroe, in London, to their satisfaction, but not to that of 
Mr. Jefferson. There is some ground to believe then, that 
Mr. Jefferson confesses he tnisrejjrescntcd his motive in pro- 
posing the embargo to Congress, in December, 1807 ; and 
that he admits the embargo to have been a hostile measure 
to England ; or, in other words, a part of the continental 
system. The sura of Mr. Jefferson's political wisdom in 
this matter comes to this : He was willing to impose an 
annual loss o^ Jifty millions on his own countrymen, and 
enforce his system of restriction at the point of the bayonet, 
to aid Napoleon in humbling England. This it uould 
doubtless have pleased him to do, even at that cost, with all 
its consequences. It is surprising, that this wise statesman 
was the last man in the nation to perceive, that his costly, 
oppressive, and ruinous measure had no tendency to effect 
his object. 

In another part of the same volume, (iv. p. 125,) Mr. Jef- 
ferson gives another version of his embargo policy, in a letter 
to Dupont de Nemours. He therein contradicts his resolu- 
tion formed on Mr. Adams's statement of the restlessness 
and plots of the East and North. He says : " The edicts of 
" the two belligerents, forbidding us to be seen on the ocean, 
" we met by an embargo. This gave us time to call home 
" our seamen, ships, and property ; to levy men, and put 
" our seaports into a certain state of defence," (by building 
gun-boats?) " We have now taken off the embargo, except 
" as to France and England, and their territories, because 
"fifty millions of exports annually sacrificed are the treble 
" of what war would cost us ; besides, that by war we 
" should gain something, and lose less than at present." 

It requires all Mr. Jefferson's ingenuity to reconcile this 
with his remarks found in vol. iv. p. 148, in a letter to Gen- 
eral Dearborn, and also with his opinion on Mr. Adams's 
disclosures: "The federalists, during their short-lived as- 
" cendency, have, nevertheless, by forcing us from the em- 
" bargo, inflicted a wound on our interests, which can never 
" be cured ; and on onr ojf ecti on s, which w'lW require time 
" to cicatrize. I ascribe all this to one pseudo-republican 
" Storv. He came on, and staid only a few days ; long 
" enough, however, to get complete hold of Bacon* who 

* A member of tfie House of Representatives from Massachusetts. 

21 



242 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

*' giving in to his representations, became panic-struck, and 
" communicated his panic to his colleagues ; and they to a 
" majority of the sound members of Congress." 

The comparison of these various accounts of the matter 
leaves one in no doubt, that Mr. Jefferson really intended to 
promote the views of Napoleon by the embargo, and that the 
"preservation," set forth in his message, was only the mask 
of the true purpose. By keeping the vessels of the United 
States at home, he prevented the products of the United 
States from reaching England, and the products of England 
from coming to the United States. This was one step be- 
yond Napoleon. It looks as though Mr. Jefferson had, in 
this matter, suggested what was false, and suppressed what 
was true. But then it should be remembered, that he 
thought it was right to do so. That is, it was right, by any 
means, and at any cost and oppression to his own country- 
men, to strengthen France in her war of destruction against 
England ; and at the same time to break down monarch- 
ists and anglomen. Nevertheless, on this " calm revisal," 
the embargo system is not a ground on which the admirers 
of Mr. Jefferson can safely rest his fame for wisdom and 
virtue, in days to come. 

It may be asked what a wise and honest President would 
have done, in this state of the country 1 He would have 
waited for the result of the negotiations in England. When 
the treaty came, as it provided effectually for every subject 
of controversy but that of impressment ; as there were as- 
surances on that subject, as satisfactory as can ever be ex- 
pected from a maritime nation, he would have ratified the 
treaty. If he did not dare to recommend a defensive war 
against France, he would have left it to the good sense of 
merchants to regulate their own affairs, and to have taken 
their chance upon the ocean. The marine of France was 
little to be feared. Mercantile ingenuity would have dis- 
cerned modes of profitable commerce ; and the gain of suc- 
cessful enterprise would have far exceeded occasional loss. 
If Mr. Jefferson really intended to protect seamen, ships, 
and commerce, he was not statesman enough to know how 
this could be effected. It is most consistent with his own 
declarations to believe, that these objects were sacrificed 
to promote his own purposes. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 243 



LETTER LV 



November 20, 1833. 

Mr. Jefferson may be considered under two aspects : 
First, as a witness against a large portion of his fellow-citi- 
zens. Secondly, as a citizen and statesman, who confi- 
dently claims the respect and gratitude of his country and 
of posterity, for eminent public services ; services which, he 
says, no other man but himself' eonld have performed. Under 
the first aspect, he presents himself in a character which 
seriously affects the memory of the dead, the feelings of the 
living, the honor of his country, and the interests of man- 
kind. If Mr. Jefferson is a credible witness, the men who 
conducted the American revolution, who founded the nation- 
al government, and who administered our national affairs 
for the first twelve years, were the most unprincipled, profli- 
gate, and wicked body of men who are known in history. 
They are worse than the Roman triumvirates and their 
associates, for these did not conceal their purposes, but did 
their work openly. If Mr. Jefferson is a credible witness, 
he casts a deep and discouraging shade on the hopes of 
mankind, that there is honor, intelligence, and virtue enough 
in the world, to assert and maintain the right to rational 
self-government. In the second aspect ; if Mr. Jefferson 
did not render such services to his country ; if he rendered 
to it no service, which entitles his memory to respect and 
gratitude; if he misapplied his trust; if he established theo- 
ries tending to destroy republican government ; if he op- 
pressed and afflicted his country more than any man who 
has lived in it ; if he established a party dominion, unknown 
and repugnant to the constitution ; if such dominion is 
seen to be here, as elsewhere in the history of nations, the 
precursor of popular despotism, and that, the precursor of 
military despotism, it is time, that Mr. Jefferson's example 
and doctrines should be understood in this land : it is time, 
that dignified senators should cease to read his books, as an 
authority in their discussions. 

There was no one among those, whom Mr. Jefferson has 
spent so much time in defaming, who did not learn with 
regret, that the abstraction from his private affairs, his 



244 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



unavoidable expenditures, his liberal hospitality, and the 
general effect of his own policy had imposed upon him, in 
the decline of life, some embarrassments. 

Alive to this state of things, he sought relief, by suggesting 
the grant of an authority from the legislature of his native 
state, to sell his property by lottery. Congress had done for 
him a very liberal act, in the purchase of his library, to re- 
place that destroyed by the British, in that war, which Mr. 
Jefferson could have easily prevented, but did not. To 
induce the legislature so to interpose, Mr. Jefferson made 
an elaborate disquisition on the policy of lotteries, which 
appears in his 4th volume, pages 428-438. Having estab- 
lished the utility and the morality of lotteries, he goes on 
to show the propriety of extending the benefit of such a 
measure to himself on the ground of his^j?/6//c services. He 
sets forth what he had been, and what he had done. As to 
the services done to his native state as there enumerated ; 
that is, in abolishing " hereditary and high-handed aris- 
tocracy," "the right of primogeniture " (in a conuiiunity 
dependent on a peculiar sort of labor) ; attacking a " domi- 
nant religion ; " in other words, taking from Episcopalian 
clergymen their parsonages and glebe lands ; and his ser- 
vices as " governor," are all matters for the consideration 
alone of Virginians. To the same parties may be referred 
his foresight and good sense, in the establishment of the 
University, in which it is said, there is no provision for reli- 
gious instruction. It is the present purpose to consider him 
only as a national citizen and ruler. 

Mr. Jefferson refers to the address of the legislature of 
Virginia, on his retirement in 1809, as illustrative of his 
merits. He adds : " There is one service, not therein spe- 
" cified, the most important in its consequences of any trans- 
" action in any portion of my life ; to wit, the head I 
" personally made against the federal principles and pro- 
" ceedings, during the administration of Mr. Adams. Their 
" usurpations and violations of the constitution, at that pe- 
" riod, and their majorities in both Houses of Congress were 
" so great, so decided, and so daring, that, after contesting 
" their aggressions, inch by inch, without being able in 
" the least to check their career, the republican leaders 
" thought it would be best for them to give up their use- 
" less efforts there ; go home, and get into their respective 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 245 

" legislatures, embody whatever resistance they could be 
" formed into, and, if ineffectual, to perish there as in the 
" last ditch. All, therefore, retired, leaving Mr. Gallatin 
" alone in the House of Representatives, and myself in tlie 
•' Senate, where I presided as Vice President. Remaining 
" at our posts, and bidding defiance to the brow-beatings 
" and insults, by which they endeavored to drive us off 
" also, we kept the mass of republicans in phalanx together, 
" until the legislatures could be brought up to the charge ; 
" and nothing on earth is more certain, than that if I myself, 
" PARTICULARLY, placed by my ofhce of Vice President at 
" the head of the republicans, had given way and withdrawn 
" from MY post, the republicans, throughout the Union, 
" would have given up in despair, and the cause would have 
" been lost for ever. By holding on, we obtained time for 
" the legislatures to come up with their weight ; and those 
" of Virginia and Kentucky particularly ; but more espe- 
" cially the former, by their celebrated resolutions, saved the 
" constitution at its last gasp. No person, who was not a 
" witness of the scenes of that gloomy period, can form any 
" idea of the afflicting persecutions and personal indignities 
" we had to brook. Thci/ saved our country, however. The 
" spirits of the people were so much subdued and reduced 
" to despair by the X, Y, Z imposture and other strata- 
" gems and machinations, that they would have sunk into 
" apathy and monarchy, as the only form of government 
" which could maintain itself" 

Certainly this great service well deserved not only a 
lottery, but a bronze statue, even if Mr. Jefferson had never 
laid and enforced an embargo, or built a gun-boat. 

But this gentleman does himself injustice in commencing 
the detail of his services in demolishing the " hydra of 
federalism," (as he somewhere calls it,) with his patriotic 
valor, while in the chair of Vice President. He might con- 
sistently have ranged under the same head his patronage of 
Freneau, Bache, and Duane, (honorably mentioned in his 
volumes,) as his coadjutors in this service to his country. 
He might have mentioned his liberality to that " man of 
science," James Thompson Callender. Nor ought he to 
have disregarded the author of " The Age of Reason " and 
of the " Letter to Washington," to whom Mr. Jefferson paid 
the national compliment of offering him a passage from 
21* 



246 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

France in the Maryland sloop of war ; and for whom he 
offers the " sincere prayer," " May you long live to continue 
" your useful labors, and to reap their reward in the thank- 
" fulness of nations." (vol. iii. p. 459.) If these patriots 
had not aided Mr. Jefferson with their pens, it is really 
doubtful whether Mr. Gallatin and " myself" could have 
been sufficiently strengthened to stand in the gap against 
brow-beatings and indignities, until the constitution was 
rescued from the hands of its enemies. 

As France and Jeffersonism on the one hand, and Eng- 
land and federalism on the other constitute the two great 
parties, to uphold the one of which and destroy the other, 
Mr. Jefferson toiled and devoted his patriotic life, he has 
done himself another injustice. He should have gone back 
to his report of December, 1793, made when he was Secre- 
tary of State, and which disclosed the true principles on 
which his own administration and that of Mr. Madison 
were founded. He should have taken to himself the merit 
of following this out, during twenty years, through commer- 
cial restrictions, evasive and deceitful negotiations, gifts of 
millions to Napoleon, oppressive and tyrannical embargo, 
and finally war, unprepared for, costly, and profitless. 

Mr. Jefferson did himself still another injustice, (as he 
commences with his manhood,) in saying nothing of the 
declaration of independence. This was one of his proud 
achievements ; and the fac simile of it is appended to his 
fourth volume. This gentleman's friends have treated this 
production, as though it were an original invention ; the true 
corner-stone of the revolution laid by this great architect. 
One would not take from Mr. Jefferson any trophy where- 
with he may think he ought to be adorned. The declara- 
tion is a writing highly honorable to him, *he most so of any 
that came from his pen. It is a solemn and sacred writing, 
and privileged from all criticism. If his admirers had 
asked for him no higher praise than this, it would have been 
improper to touch on this matter. But these admirers 
have referred to this authorship as proof, that Mr. Jefferson 
could not err as to the constitution, or in patriotism, or policy. 
Such a shield it ought not to be. This writing sets forth 
why a declaration should be made ; next, a recognition, 
(not an invention,) of social and political principles ; then a 
statement of British tyrannies ; and then the inference, that 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 247 

the colonies have the right, and that it is their duty to free 
themselves from the parent country. It concludes with a 
solemn pledge to maintain freedom and independence. Now 
it cannot be denied, that such were the sentiments which 
thousands of our countrymen entertained at that day. They 
had been again and again expressed in popular essays, in 
congressional speeches, and on so many occasions, that in 
June, 1776, there could be no new thoughts. Mr. Jefferson 
has the merit of having taken these thoughts, (as much his 
own as of hundreds of others, and no more,) and of having 
arranged them, and clothed them in suitable and expres- 
sive language. This is meritorious, and this country is 
grateful for the acceptable manner in which that work was 
done. But this is not a satisfactory reason why Mr. Jeffer- 
son should be considered as having done equally xodl, all 
that he ever afterwards undertook to do. Let him have the 
full credit of that labor ; and judge of him righteously as to 
all others. 

Mr. Jefferson, with perfect consistency, does claim for 
himself respect and gratitude for establishing the doctrine of 
Nullification. He boasts, that he was the author of the 
Kcntucliy resolutions in 1798, and the promoter of like 
resolutions in Virginia, in the same year. These resolu- 
tions declared two laws of Congress to be ?iidl and void. 
(Sedition and Alien.) Here is found (as admitted by Mr. 
J. C. Calhoun, in his publication of his " Sentiments," 
dated July 26, 1831,) the real theory on which the state 
of South Carolina assumes to decide for itself, what laws of 
the Union it will obey, and which of them it will resist with 
force and at-ins. If Mr. Jefferson had done no other acts 
tending to disunion and civil icar, his memory deserves any 
sentiment rather than that which he demands for himself of 
" his countrymen. 



LETTER LVI. 

November 25, 1833. 

Mr. Jefferson's volumes make known to any one who 
has the necessary patience to read them, that he entertained 



248 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

opinions on social and political relations, which are utterly 
adverse to those expressed and maintained by the wise and 
virtuous republicans of the last two centuries. His opinions 
are entitled to no earlier origin, than the days of the French 
Revolution. What can be less worthy of an intelligent 
mind, than his theories on the rights of successive genera- 
tions ; and of the incapacity of one generation to bind its 
followers by any obligation. What less acceptable to the 
lovers of order and social stability, than the periodical recur- 
rence of rebellions. It is not surprising, that one who enter- 
tained such opinions should gravely assert, that when the 
constitutionality of a law is doubted, the whole nation must 
wait until a convention can be called by two thirds of the 
states, to take the matter into consideration and decide 
upon it. (vol. iv. p. 374.) Within a short time, a disciple of 
Mr. Jefferson has maintained the same doctrine in the 
Senate of the United States. In what manner he was met 
and answered, (and with the general applause of the nation,) 
cannot be forgotten. 

To the same source is to be traced the impracticable, not 
to say absurd notions on currency and banking, which 
some persons maintain at the present day ; notions, proved 
by the experience of all commercial people, and by none 
more than our own, to be untenable and visionary. In 
truth, all the disorganizing and destructive " heresies," which 
certain politicians of the present times adhere to, are to be 
found in Mr. Jefferson's theories or practice. And yet this 
gentleman says, in obviating the objection of precedent in 
allowing to him a lottery : " Let those who shall quote the 
" precedent bring their case within the same measure. 
" Have they, as in this case, devoted threescore years and 
" one of their lives to the service of their country 1 Has 
" the share they have borne in holding their neio government 
" to its genuine principles been eqiicdly marked ?" 

What pretension can Mr. Jefferson have to say, that he 
did this ? The original founders of this new government 
intended to bring, and did bring the people of the United 
States into a national Union : To secure to them the 
services of the most able and virtuous among them, 
in maintaining peace, commerce, and friendly intercourse 
with all nations ; to prepare for defence against foreign insult 
and aggression, and to resist and resent, when national 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 249 

honor demanded that course ; to promote internal com- 
merce, and to keep the sovereign members oi" the Union in 
peace and amity with each other ; to give to domestic in- 
genuity and enterprise their fair competition with other 
nations ; to assuage and compromise the jealousies and dif- 
ferences, which might be expected, from the expanding and 
unfolding of the powers of a great and increasing people. 
This intention was fully accomplished — accomplished to 
the surprise and envy of the elder world ; and if Thomas 
Jeiferson had never lived, it is believed, that this substantial 
and beautiful reality would not have been dissipated. 

He came into this new government, and by means which 
he has fully disclosed; and there he ruled and reigned by 
the magic of his pen.* Passing over his disastrous policy 
with foreign nations ; the oppressions, losses, and sufferings 
which he inflicted on his countrymen ; grievous as these 
were, they are all nothing to that grievous wound which he 
gave to this " new government," and which seems likely to 
prove a mortal one. 

Mr. Jefferson drew the line between rich and poor, in a 
republic where family influence is unknown, where inher- 
itance depends on equal distribution, where wealth depends 
on industry and talents, and where the poor man's son is far 
more likely to attain to office and honor, than the sons of 
the rich. Mr Jefferson organized the elements which make 
up that monster — party ; he invited apostacy ; he estab- 
lished the odious doctrine of " rewards and punishments ; " 
he made devotion to the man, not to the constitution, the 
passport to office; he taught the "people" (as he calls 
them) to sacrifice to personal feuds and jealousies their 
respect for the institutions of their country. It was he who 
misled and debased the public mind, and who converted 
honorable and patriotic service, in a free republic, into a 
low, selfish, and dishonest struggle for office. He led the 



* This book and the " History of the Hartford Convention," by 
Theodore Dwight, furnished a writer in the North Ameiican Review 
(No. 84, July, 1834,) with an opportunity to give his views of " The 
old parties." It is a very remarlcable production. It required an 
answer, and one appeared in a pamphlet of forty pages, on the first of 
September, at Boston. In this may be found some disquisition on the 
magic of Mr. Jefferson's pen ; and some further developement of his 
real character. 



250 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



way to popular despotism. The perils, sufferings, and 
dread of the i)resent hour are all from his impulse. 

That, which is most to be lamented in all this, is his sin- 
ccrity ; his real belief that all was right; that all he did 
was truly patriotic ; and that he is richly entitled to his 
reward in the respect and gratitude of all succeeding gen- 
erations. 'J'hat, which is truly disheartening to the friends 
of the constitution, of tlie Union, and of rational republican 
liberty, is, that there are so many intelligent and respectable 
men in the United States, who conscientiously believe, to 
this day, in " the great and good " Mr. Jeflerson. But his 
glories are fading in the brilliancy of the " greatest and 
BEST," the rightful successor in the line, of which Jefferson 
was the first. 



LETTER LVII. 

November 30, 1833. 

Mr. Jefferson found the United States, in 1801, at 
peace and in amity with all Europe ; in the enjoyment of a 
secure and prosperous commerce ; with a resj)ectable navy ; 
a sound credit ; a learned and independent judiciary. He 
found, it is true, some increase of debt for money honorably 
and profitably ex])ended, but which was insignificant and 
hardly to be felt under the effect of Alexander Hamilton's 
system of finance. He left the United States embroiled 
with England ; more so with France ; he had demolished 
the navy and the judiciary, so far as he had power to do it ; 
he had banished the flag of the United States from the 
ocean ; he had cost the people in actual, but useless expen- 
diture, and by unwise restrictions on commerce, an immense 
sum, which lie estimated, merely as to exports for one year 
of the embargo, at fifty millions. The nation were proba- 
bly one hundred millions the worse for Mr. Jefferson's 
philosophy and statesmanship. There is not the least 
doubt, that, if there had been a federal administration in- 
stead of that of Thomas Jefferson, during his eight years, 
the people of the United States would have gained and 
saved together, a sum equal to the cost of the revolutionary 



I 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 251 

war. But he had nidiin federalism, and this he distinguishes 
as the chief trophy of his political career.* 

What a difference would it have made to the people of 
this country, if Mr. Jefferson's successor had been an able, 
faithful, constitutional President of the Uiiited States, and 
not the mere chief of a vindictive and deluded party ! Such 
a President, it is to be feared, the people of this country are 
never again to see. If they do not, it will be for the reason, 
that Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison have been in the place 
of President. 

Mr. Madison was a wiser and a better man, than Mr. 
Jefferson. He had done himself an honor, for which his 
countrymen should ever be grateful, in forming, recommend- 
ing, and sustaining the constitution, jointly with Jay and 
Hamilton, against its irreconcilable opponents. He was not 
mean and malignant, like Jefferson. He was well informed ; 
an able debater ; a good writer ; a man of comprehensive 
and useful mind. There is nothing in the life of Mr. Mad- 
ison to show, that he was not an honorable man. It was his 
misfortune to have adopted all the notions of Mr. Jefferson, 
as to France and England, and to have carried these fully 
into his administration. How far he acted in pursuance of 
his own judgment, and how far he yielded to the counsels of 
party, will never be known. This gentleman, it may be 
supposed, will not order the publication of his confidential 
letters and of his " Anas," when he is dead. He will leave 
history to do its duty. It will do this, no doubt, impartially ; 
and though it may not commend his measures as a states- 
man and public agent, it will not disgrace him as a man. 

Mr. Madison may have better claim to charity, than Mr. 
Jefferson. The latter was the inventor of a course of policy 
in which the former was, probably, so deeply involved, that 
he could not escape from it, when placed at the head of the 
nation. A party chief soon finds himself a mere vassal. 
He well knows that his creators can annihilate. He has 
three alternatives; he can retire — he can throw himself on 

* " The war, ad internecionem, which we have waged against fed- 
eralism, has filled our latter times with strife and unhappiness. We 
have met it, with pain indeed, but with firmness, because we be- 
lieved it the last convulsive effort of that Hydra, which in earlier 
times we had conquered in the field." (Jefferson to Dr. Logan, 
May 11th, 1805, vol. iv. p. 35.) 



252 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

the confidence of adversaries and seek their support — he 
must do the will of his party. Mr. Madison embraced 
neither of the two first alternatives. If he adopted the 
last, his friends will support him by maintaining, that this 
was the true course of wisdom and patriotism. So far as 
the world knows, Mr. Madison sincerely approved of all 
Mr. Jefferson's policy. If so, his countrymen are the prop- 
er judges of his merits. It is certain, that Mr. Jefferson 
approved of all Mr. Madison's policy, as being a continua- 
tion of his own ; and being such, his countrymen will 
judge of his merits.* 

The first indication of Mr. Madison's devotion to Jeffer- 
sonism is found in his resolutions presented to the House 
of Representatives in January, 1794, to carry into effect 
Mr. Jefferson's report, as Secretary of State, dated in the 
preceding month. The object of these resolutions is sup- 
posed to have been to withdraw the commerce of the United 
States from England, and to bestow it on France. From 
this time to the close of the war in 1815, he faithfully pur- 
sued the Jeffersonian policy of strengthening France, and 
prostrating England, and of breaking down federalism. In 
all this he was another Jefferson. It ought not to be doubt- 
ed, that Mr. Madison was honest in all this, however unfor- 
tunate it may have been for his country. But this inference 
is to be drawn, that a mere partisan may become so thor- 
oughly imbued with the spirit of party, as to be incapable 
of receiving any sentiment of an exalted and patriotic duty 
to a whole community. To every thing British Mr. Madi- 
son seems to have entertained a decided and unchangeable 
hostility. He associated all political opposition with his 
British enmity. The correlative of this was devotion to 
France. This devotion, equally manifested throughout the 

* " My friendship for Mr. Madison, my confidence in his wisdom 
and virtue, and my approbation of all his measures, and especially of 
his taking up, at length, the gauntlet against England, is known to 
all with whom I hav^e ever conversed, or corresponded on these 
measures. The word federal, or its synonyme lie, may, therefore, be 
written under every word of Mr. Ralph's paragraph." (Jefferson to 
Leiper, June 12, 1815, vol. iv. p. 265.) 

What Mr. Jefferson meant hy friendship, is known from his 4th vol. 
p. 176. 

Et idem velle, et idem nolle, ea demiim amicitia est. (To have 
the same desires and aversions is friendship.) 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 253 

changes in that country, from the terrible misrule of democ- 
racy to the tranquillity of no less terrible despotism, in the 
person of imperial Napoleon, could have had no other 
prompting, than the utility of prostrating, or humbling ty- 
rannical England. We hope that no one will take the im- 
pression, from anything expressed in this volume, that any 
member of the Jetfersonian party was corruptly devoted to 
France. This party no more desired the subjugation of 
this country to France, than to England. The sole purpose 
is to compare the merits, policy, and usefulness of the lead- 
ers of the two parties ; and to infer which of the two class- 
es are best entitled to that praise and respect, which Mr. 
Jefferson claims exclusively for himself and his party asso- 
ciates. 

One would like to know whether Mr. Madison, in his 
retirement and retrospection, retains the belief that he gov- 
erned wisely. Credit may be safely given to him for believ- 
ing, that he did what he thought was right. He might 
justify himself by insisting, that he did not foresee, any more 
than others did, the conflagration of Moscow ; the flight of 
Napoleon ; his foil from the throne ; and his exile to St. 
Helena ; that he did not foresee, any more than others did, 
that exasperated England, freed from European war, could 
direct all her forces to our own shores. Will this excuse 
Mr. Madison, as a patriotic and discerning statesman, from 
not foreseeing, that, if Napoleon had been as successful as 
Mr. Madison seems to have desired he should be, the 
freedom and independence of this country would have de- 
pended on a tremendous and appalling struggle with the 
same Napoleon 1 Was there nothing in the conduct, decla- 
rations, and character of Napoleon, to warn him of this ? 
How is Mr. Madison to excuse himself for this defect in fore- 
sight ? His excuse lies in the terrifying fact, that ever since 
Mr. Jefferson's ascendency, this country has passed over, 
bound in fetters never to be broken, to the clominion of party. 
On the other hand, the principles oi" federalism were nothing 
more nor less, than a faithful, able, and honest administra- 
tion of national and state authority. Its object and sole 
object was to promote industry, security, and happiness at 
home, according to laws, made in conformity to the consti- 
tution ; to avoid all participation in the wars of Europe, and 
to make the American name justly respected, through impar- 
22 



254 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

tial and honorable policy, by all nations. These principles 
must always exist and have force, while a free republic 
continues. They may be known under various names, but 
in substance and effect they must ever be the same. Yet 
all who profess them, by whatever party name distinguished, 
are condemned by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to 
the odium of opposition. All the sound constitutional prin- 
ciples of federalism, by whatsoever name they may be here- 
after known, must struggle for existence against the corrupt 
and demoralizing influences of party. 

If this country is to be saved from despotism, originating 
in democracy, it will be done by instructing the great body 
of the people in the nature of their government, and in the 
perils to which it is exposed. Suppose a case to exist, in 
which a popular President is counselled by a combination 
of men, who are unknown to the constitution as such advi- 
sers ; that the President and this combination are sustained 
by a majority of both branches of Congress ; that the whole 
host of revenue officers are selected for their devotion to the 
will of a cabinet so formed ; that all the postmasters through- 
out the United States are selected and commissioned on the 
same principle, and have the facility of communication free 
of all expense ; that there are newspapers sustained and 
circulated for the single purpose of teaching subserviency 
to the cabinet, and hostility to all who venture to criticise 
their measures ; that all the district attorneys and marshals 
are chosen and appointed, because they have given satis- 
factory evidence of their devotion to the cabinet. If such a 
case may be supposed, what would be wanting to establish 
an absolute despotism in the country ? Nothing but the 
command of tl.e public money, and a. judiciary of the same 
class of citizens. If anything more be wanted, it might 
easily be found by getting up a pretence, foreign or domestic, 
to organize a military force. Are the United States free 
from such perils ? Is there any possibility of awakening 
public attention to such perils ? One mode of doing this, if 
it can be done, is to show how nearly such perils have over- 
taken us, and how they were escaped. 

Such a party dominion existed, when Mr. Madison came 
to the presidency. The opponent party then were the fed- 
eralists. The opponent party at this day are citizens known 
by some other party name ; but they are men of the same 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 255 

principles, tliat is, they are constitutionalists. The object 
.of Mr. Madison's party was to put the federalists down. 
The object of the present dominion is to put down all 
opponents, and to have the exclusive control of opinion, of 
money, and of physical force. The citizens, who hold this 
dominion, may think all they have done, are doing, and in- 
tend to do, to be right and honest. So thought Mr. Madison 
and his supporters. But the country was brought to the 
verge of ruin. It is certain, that there can be no instruc- 
tion but in suffering, at the present day, unless a knowl- 
edge of what has been heretofore suftered from similar 
causes may lead to comparisons and inferences. There are 
millions in the United States who will listen to nothing but 
praises and hosannas to a ruling power. But they may be 
willing to know how similar exercise of power has hereto- 
fore endangered civil liberty, and they may, perhaps, be 
unwilling again to submit to the like dangers. 



LETTER LVIII. 

December 5, 1833. 

During Mr. Jefferson's eight years he had faithfully 
cherished all the causes of controversy with Great Britain, 
had resolutely abstained from all compromise, and had used 
the means of negotiation, not to close, but to make the 
breach wider. The principal causes of controversy were, 
1. The colonial trade. 2. The blockades by England. 
3. The affair of the Chesapeake. 4. Impressment of mari- 
ners from American merchant vessels. 5. Orders of the 
king in council. It is necessary, now, to look a little more 
closely at these subjects, because in these are to be found 
the pretended causes of Mr. Madison's war. 

1. The colonial trade controversy arose thus : France had 
colonies. In time of peace, neutrals could not lawfully 
carry merchandise from them to France. England insisted, 
that neutrals should not do in time of war, what they could 
not do in time of peace ; and required that French colonial 
merchandise should be carried home to the neutral country, 
and a new voyage there commenced, if the neutral desired 



256 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

to carry such merchandise to France. This was a matter 
much discussed, as to the right and the wrong ; but Mr. 
Jefferson lost his hold on it, in consequence of the conquest 
by the British of all Frenclx colonies. 2. The blockades of 
the English. It was admitted that a place is blockaded, 
when there is a competent force before it to prevent ingress 
and egress ; but that the British could not lawfully affect the 
trade of neutrals, by declaring a whole coast blockaded, 
where such force was not present. As this point of contro- 
versy was merged in a remaining one, it is unnecessary to 
pursue it further. It makes, however, a conspicuous figure 
in the discussions of the day. It was a material subject in 
Mr. Madison's diplomacy, but not one for which even he 
would have ventured on a war. 

3. The affair of the Chesapeake and Leopard was shortly 
this : Vessels of war belonging to France and to England 
might, in 1807, come into the ports of the United States. 
Those of France came, and those of England came to seek 
them. 

On the Tth of March, 1807, the British sloop of war, 
Halifax, was near Norfolk, Townshend, commander. Rich- 
ard Hubert, born in Liverpool ; Henry Sanders, born in 
Greenock ; Jenkin Ratford, born in London ; George North, 
born m Kinsale ; William Hill, born in Philadelphia, (but 
who shipped on board the Halifax at the English Island of 
Antigua,) were employed in a boat to weigh the anchor. 
While so employed, they rose upon the officer in the boat, 
threatened to murder him, and rowed to the American shore 
and landed. The same day they entered at the rendezvous 
of the Chesapeake, as seamen ; and on the same day they 
were demanded of Lieutenant Sinclair, (of the Chesapeake,) 
who neither delivered nor discharged them. Three other 
demands were made for these men ; one by the British con- 
sul on the mayor of Norfolk ; one on Captain Decatur; and 
one by the British minister on the Secretary of State. The 
Chesapeake sailed Avith these five men on board, and while 
going down the Potomac, all but Ratford deserted and got 
on shore. 

When the Chesapeake got to sea, she was met by the 
British ship, Leopard, of fifty guns, commanded by Hum- 
phreys. The American vessel had only 44 guns, though 
not of inferior force. Humphreys demanded these men of 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 257 

Captain Barron, commander of the Chesapeake, who replied, 
that " he knew of no such men as Captain Humphreys de- 
scribed." The Leopard fired upon the Chesapeake ; a short 
action ensued and the Chesapeake struck her colors. The 
British searched the American and found Ratford in the 
coal-hole. They took hnn ; and he was tried and executed. 
The British also took three other men, who were said to be 
deserters from the Melampus ; one, a South American by 
birth, and two black men, who were runaway slaves from 
Maryland, and who protected themselves by entering on 
board the Melampus, and afteru'ards shipped in the Chesa- 
peake, having deserted from the former. 

This was a gross outrage on the part of the British com- 
mander, whatever the provocation may have been, because 
the universally acknowledged principle is, that a national 
ship at sea and the territory of its nation are alike inviolable. 
Captain Humphreys might as lawfully have exercised force 
to recover these deserters in the city of Washington, as from 
the American ship. The British government so understood 
this matter, and disavowed the act of its officer, and oifered 
a proper and honorable reparation, which was finally ac- 
cepted before the war, and therefore this did not make one 
of the causes which led to that calamity. It would be 
tedious to follow out the right and the wrong of the negotia- 
tion on this subject. It was one that afforded materials 
abundantly for the purposes of irritation, which the admin- 
istration faithfully cherished. 

4. Impressment. This is a diflicult subject, arising from the 
similarity of language, manners, and appearance; and made 
still more so, by the naturalization of British subjects in the 
United States, under the patronage of Mr. JetFerson., The 
English, in searching for their own subjects, had repeatedly 
and oppressively taken native Americans. Whether they 
did this, knowing that they took such natives, is doubtful ; 
though they always pretended, at least, that they took only 
their own. The federalists contended, that this seizure of 
seamen was not a justifiable cause, certainly not a neces- 
sary cause of war at any time, until all hope of compromise, 
or redress through negociation had failed. The federalists 
maintained, that all nations engaged in war have a right, 
as the necessary consequence of allegiance, to the services 
of their own subjects and citizens. That this right had 
22* 



258 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

been asserted and maintained immemorially, by all the 
maritime nations of Europe. The personal appearance and 
language of Europeans divests this subject of all difficulties 
among them. It is a very different subject as between 
England and the United States. Descended from the Eng- 
lish, Irish, and Scotch, and the common language being the 
same ; and some part of American seamen being British 
subjects by birth, but naturalized in the United States, it 
was not an easy matter to distinguish between the natives 
of the one country and the other. The British did not 
admit, that their subjects could change their native alle- 
giance, by assuming one to a foreign country. They never 
asserted a right to take native Americans, but they some- 
times did take them in the exercise of the right which they 
did assert. The federalists also contended, that the impress- 
ment affected principally the middle and New England 
states, the latter in the proportion, probably, of three fourths ; 
and that the inhabitants of New England were far from 
tiiinking this such a cause of complaint, as to call for a war : 
that the right of taking native British subjects, who had 
been naturalized, was not one in which the United States 
were so much interested, as to subject the whole country to 
the evil of war : that England had gone so far, as to modify 
her pretensions in a manner, that ought to be satisfactory to 
the United States ; for that the British ministry had agreed 
with Air. King, (minister in London, in 1802,) to renounce 
the right of searching American vessels for British seamen, 
on the high seas, and would exercise it only on the narrow 
seas, which wash the shores of British isles. (Over these 
seas England has asserted dominion for centuries.) That 
in 180G, Messrs. Monroe and Pinckney made an arrange- 
ment on this subject, which they deemed to be " honorable 
and advantageous ;" and, therefore, that this was, properly 
and from its own intrinsic difficulties, a subject of negotia- 
tion, and not of war ; and could be adjusted in the former 
mode, and never could be by the latter. 

The principle for which Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison 
contended was, that the American flag should protect all 
who sailed under it. This extended, not only to native citi- 
zens, but naturalized ones, and also to any and all British 
subjects, sailing in American merchantmen. The reason- 
ableness of this requisition may be tested by the inquiry, 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 259 

whether a maritime power, which asserts the right to tlie 
services of its native subjects in time of war, could consent, 
that these subjects should find an asylum, tempting wao-es, 
and personal security in neutral vessels, when most wanted 
at home ? And whether a declaration of war would not be 
a signal for all seamen to escape into neutral service 1 If 
this would be right and just for British sailors, so would it 
be for those of America. Should we consent, on the hap- 
pening of a war with France, for example, that our seamen 
should withdraw to the neutral service of England? 

The federalists also insisted, that negotiaUon might, and 
that war could not devise modes of distinguishing natives 
of Britain from natives of America; that negotiation could, 
and war could not settle, to what extent naturalization 
should protect, and what should be evidence, that this change 
of allegiance had occurred; that negotiation could, and war 
could not settle rights, in relation to British subjects sailing 
under the American flag, who had not been naturalized. 

The considerations thus presented had no effect on Mr. 
Madison. He adopted all the theories of Mr. Jefferson, 
manifested in his first presidential speech concerning aliens ; 
and courageously insisted, that the American flag should 
protect without qualification or exception ; and that if Eng- 
land, in the midst of her struggle for existence, did not 
assent, she must number the United States among her 
enemies ; — a principle which no nation will be more likely 
to contend against hereafter, than that of the United States. 
Now, was this a wise, manly, and patriotic policy on the 
part of Mr. Madison ; or was it in furtherance of a long 
meditated design, to find the most convenient opportunity 
to step into the pleasing occupation of overwhelming Eng- 
land, and of silencing the " disaffected and the worthless" 
at home? No reasonable being can doubt as to the motive 
of. Jefferson and Madison, in using, as they did, this cause 
of complaint. 

o. The Orders in Council were commercial edicts, or 
regulations, ordered by the King of England, with the advice 
and approbation of those persons who had been (according 
to the usage of the English government) selected to be his 
personal counsellors. It was well known to federalists and 
to Mr. Madison and his party, that these orders were passed 
to retaliate on France her own insolent and oppressive de- 



260 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

crees ; yet it was the persevering effort of Mr. Madison, to 
make it believed by the citizens of the United States, that 
England was the original aggressor. 

Between the 4th of March, 1809, when Mr. Madison 
became President, and the ISth of June, 1812, when war 
was declared, England seems to have desired sincerely to 
compromise the controversies with this country, and to 
avoid conflict. Mr. Erskine, a very young man and not of 
much experience, was British minister here, on the 4th of 
March. An arrangement was made with him. It was said 
at the time, that Mr. Madison knew, or might have known, 
that he had exceeded his authority. This arrangement was 
disavowed in England, and Erskine recalled. He was suc- 
ceeded by Francis James Jackson, whom the administration 
found so much to be displeased with, that all communication 
was cut off with him, and, as it was then thought, offensively 
and with the design to keep open the controversy. He was 
succeeded by Mr. Foster, who was equally unsuccessful. 
He remained here till war was declared. 

This period was one of very deep interest. It exercised 
the talents and called forth the eloquence of the ablest men 
in the country, in and out of Congress, who desired to 
avoid the calamity of war with England, and the inevitable 
consequence, an alliance and colonial dependence on Napo- 
leon, if nothing worse happened. Some very able speeches 
were made in Congress, and some searching pamphlets were 
written. The legislature of Massachusetts did itself great 
credit in declaring its opinion on the state of the country. 
All these will come in as materials of history, and will de- 
monstrate the most abject subserviency to France and the 
most impolitic hostility to England. 

As before remarked, it is not to be supposed, that Jeffer- 
son, or Madison, or any one of their political associates were 
acting under a corrupt influence of France, any more than 
that federalists were acting under the like influence of Eng- 
land. The Jeffersonian party believed, that they could best 
support themselves by adhering to France ; and by charging 
their adversaries with being under British influence, and 
with plots to sever the Union and set up a northern king- 
dom, or, perhaps, subject the northern part again to Great 
Britain. The federalists could deny these charges, and 
could retaliate by charging the Jeffersonians with real des- 



I 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 261 

potism, and adduce devotion to the despot of continental 
Europe, as the proof. But unfortunately a majority of the 
American people honestly believed, that Napoleon was " the 
man of destiny " sent to liberate the world from political 
slavery ; and so some of Mr. Jefferson's admirers still main- 
tain. In this warfare the Jetfersonians had the advantage, 
because they could make the majority believe as they thought 
best. The right and the wrong is now transferred to the 
tribunal of history ; so let it go ; but do not let the citizens 
of this day slide into despotism from the example and pre- 
cepts of former times. 



LETTER LIX. 

December 10, 1833. 

Nothing will better illustrate the sincerity of Mr. Madi- 
son's devotion to his party, than his twin etfort in March, 
1812, to inflame the excitement against England and his 
fellow citizens at Boston. It is amusing, that Mr. Madison 
should have paid an ingenious Irishman Jifty thousand 
dollars, for an attempt to render a service to the object of 
his hatred, England ; still more amusing, that all he got 
for his money was a faithful picture of Jefferson and him- 
self, draw'n by a British painter. 

On the 9th of March, 1812, Mr. Madison sent a message 
to Congress, in which he says : " I lay before Congress 
" copies of certain documents, which remain in the depart- 
" ment of state. They prove, that at a recent period, 
" whilst the United States, notwithstanding the wrongs sus- 
" tained by them, ceased not to observe the laws of peace 
" and neutrality towards Great Britain, and in the midst of 
" amicable professions and negotiations, on the part of the 
" British government, through its public minister here, a 
" secret agent of that government was employed, in certain 
" states, more especially at the seat of government in 3Iassa- 
" chusftts, in fomenting disaffection to the constituted au- 
" thorities of the nation ; and in intrigues ivith the disaffected, 
" for the purpose of bringing about resistance to the laws, 
" and eventually, in concert with a British force, of destroy- 



262 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" ing the Union, and forming the eastern part thereof into a 
" political connexion with Great Britain." 

It was said and believed, at the time of the publication of 
the documents which accompanied this message, that the 
naturalized citizen of the United States (John Henry) out- 
witted Mr. Madison ; that he did not disclose these docu- 
ments until he had received ffty thousand dollars, which 
Mr. Madison took out of the secret service fund ; and that 
forthwith, on the receipt of the money, Henry decamped 
and took passage for Europe, to enjoy his easily acquired 
fortune. It seems, that he had tried to get money and 
office from the Governor of Canada, and also from the 
ministry in England, without success ; and that failing in 
these efforts, he made Mr. Madison pay him very hand- 
somely — for what ? Giving a very just and true account 
of the distress and well grounded dissatisfaction, which all 
well-informed constitutional citizens felt, under the misrule 
of the two popular Presidents. 

Whether the British ministry knew, or connived at the 
mission of Henry by the Governor of Canada, is of no im- 
portance. It appears from Henry's showing, that they did 
not. The British minister, then at Washington, disavowed 
all knowledge of his government, that Henry was so em- 
ployed. Mr. Madison had two objects in sending Henry's 
dearly purchased papers to Congress. 1. To inflame the 
hatred against Great Britain with his own party. 2. To 
make the federalists, " ctt the seat of government in Massa- 
chusetts," appear to be traitors. Unfortunately for Mr. Madi- 
son, neither of these effects was produced. It was at once 
discerned from the correspondence, that Henry had done 
no more, than to speculate on the character and views of 
parties, much to the disadvantage of Mr. Madison's party ; 
and that he had never disclosed to any man in New Eng- 
land, that he was a missionary. It was also discerned, at 
once, that he was earning money, or office, and consequently 
made the most of his materials. The most ridiculous part 
of the affair was the sending of these papers to Congress, 
who could do nothing with them. They were, in compli- 
ment to Mr. Madison, and to make some show of money's 
worth, committed with power to send for persons and papers. 
There was nobody to send for, but a French Count, who 
was supposed to have counselled Henry in his ingenious 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 263 

contrivance. The committee reported, that, as Henry had 
not named any traitor, they could do nothino-. There are 
many persons who remember Jolm Henry, and that he was 
in Boston in 1809. But no one ever heard it suggested, that 
he was a British agent. He was said to be engaged in some 
sort of land speculation ; but very few knew, or cared how 
he was employed. He was a handsome, well-behaved man, 
and was received in some respectable families. 

The principal value of John Henry's papers is, that Mr. 
Madison has tiled in the office of Secretary of State a true 
account of his own administration, and a delineation of him- 
self, to which none of the traitors at the seat of government 
in Massachusetts will object, since Mr. Madison has been 
pleased to pay for, adopt, and file among the archives 
the truth on these points, verified by Mr. Madison's own 
witness. The following are extracts from Henry's letters to 
the Governor of Canada. " On the subject of the embargo 
" laws there seems to be but one opinion : That they are 
" unnecessary, oppressive, and unconstitutional. It must 
" also be observed, that the execution of them is so invidious, 
" as to attract towards the officers of government the en- 
" mity of the people, which is of course transferable to the 
" government itself" " The embargo is the favorite meas- 
" ure ; and it is probable, that some other measure will be 
" adopted to excite England to commit some act of hostility," 
" They will risk anything but the loss of power ; and they 
" are well aware, that their power would pass away with 
" the first calamity, which their measures might bring upon 
" the common people." " Although it is believed, that there 
" is no probability of an immediate war, yet no doubts are 
" entertained, that Mr. Madison will fall upon some new 
" expedient, to bring about hostilities." " The past admin- 
" istration in every transaction presents to the mind only 
" a muddy commixture of folly, weakness, and duplicity." 
" But the observations made on his (Mr. Madison's) friendly 
" dispositions towards Great Britain is a matter of no little 
" astonishment. The whole tenor of his political life 
" directly and unequivocally contradicts them. His speech 
"on the British treaty in 1799, ['96?]; his attempts to 
" pass a law for the confiscation of British debts and British 
" property ; his commercial resolutions, grounded apparently 
" on an idea of making America useful, as a colony of 



264 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" France ; * his conduct while Secretary of State, all form an 
" assemblage of probabilities, tending to convince me at 
" least, that he does not seriously desire a treaty in which 
" the rights and pretensions of Great Britain would be fairly 
" recognised. It seems impossible, that he should at once 
" divest himself of that habitual animosity and that pride of 
" opinion, which his present situation enables him to in- 
" dulge ; but above all, that he should deprive his friends 
" and supporters of the benefit of those prejudices, which 
" have been carefully fostered in the minds of the common 
" people against England, and which have so materially 
" contributed to invigorate and augment the democratic 
" party." 

It is improbable, that John Henry exhibited such sketches 
of Mr. Madison to him before the money was paid. After it 
was paid, and Mr. Madison had examined his purchase, as 
the sum was considerable, it would be expended without 
value, if these papers were merely deposited in the Secre- 
tary's office. Perhaps it was not much otherwise, in 
attempting to make them significant by the solemnity of 
message, which might strengthen " those prejudices which 
" had been carefully fostered in the minds of the common 
" people against England ; " and at the same time make 
one portion of the people distrust and hate another still 
more cordially. Whatever these documents were really 
worth, there they are " remaining in the department of 
state," deposited by Mr. Madison's own hand, as a memorial 
of his good sense and patriotism. Perhaps they did help to 
increase the animosity which prevailed between the parties, 
and to promote the reign of terror, which came with the 
war. 

These documents were sent on by a member of Congress 
of this vicinity, who had the honor of being one of the six 
in the committee of foreign relations who reported the war 
manifesto to the House, in the following month of June. 
They arrived here in the morning of one day, and the press 
was put in motion to multiply them and have them in 
readiness to come forth, and confound the Yankee traitors 
on the morning of the next day. The secret was not well 
kept. It reached the ears of one person with sufficient dis- 

* Founded on Mr. Jefferson's report when Secretary of State. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 2C5 

tinctness to make its general purpose understood. He sat 
down and wrote a refutation, to appear also on the next 
morning. It came out simultaneous!}' with the documents, 
and was so triumphantly successful, as to take from Mr. 
Madison's barb all its venom — - and all its force. The pub- 
lic were left only to wonder at the disposition with which it 
was thrown, and at the feebleness of the arm which threw it. 
(Sec the Commercial Gazette, of March, 1812.) 

It is painful to believe, that so eminent a man, as Mr. 
Madison, has exposed himself to the suspicion of having in- 
tended to prevent the election of a federalist to the office of 
governor in Massachusetts, and to secure the election of one 
of his political friends ; and of having used his own othcial 
power to this end. Whether this be a well-grounded sus- 
picion, or not, may depend on the impression which the 
following facts may make. 

John Henry arrived from England at Boston, December 
23, 1811. He visited Governor Gerry, who gave him a 
letter of introduction to Mr. Madison, in which he says, that 
Henry's " professional, literary, and polite accomplishments 
have been much respected by all his acquaintance." This 
letter bears date January 11, 1812. Henry arrived at 
Washington January 31st, and kept within his lodgings in 
the day time, and made his visits in the evening. He left 
Washington February 11th. On the 10th of February, fifty 
thousand dollars were drawn from the treasury, in the name 
of John Graham, chief clerk in the office of Secretary of 
State. On the 11th of February, Henry arrived at Balti- 
more, and is said to have negotiated there an order of the 
Bank of Columbia at Washington in his favor, on the Me- 
chanics' Bank of New York, for forty-eight thousand dollars. 
Henry sailed from New York (or some other port) for 
France on the ninth of March, in the United States sloop 
of war Wasp. 

It is a curious fact, tliat Henry had been at Washington, 
had got his money, and had returned northwardly, and was 
at Baltimore on the 1 1th of February, and that his letter of 
disclosure to James Monroe, Secretary of State, is dated the 
20th of that month, at Philadelphia. It is remarkable, that 
Mr. Madison had these disclosures at least twenty-five days 
before he made them known to Congress ; that when he did 
so make them known, Henry was actually under sail for 
23 



266 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

France, and consequently could not be called on for any ex- 
planation. From the date of Mr. Madison's message to 
Congress to the election day in Massachusetts was twenty- 
eight days. It might take eight da^s to get the news to 
Congress, and through their agency to Massachusetts, and 
the remaining twenty days was about a convenient measure 
of time to disseminate it, and make it known to all those 
who might thereby be influenced to vote for Elhridge Gerry 
instead of Caleb Strong. 

Nov.' it is not intended to say, that the President of the 
United States (knowing as well before he sent his message 
as afterwards, that Congress could do nothing with it) did 
hope to influence the state election. Yet, as he was then 
meditating a war message ; as it was a material thing to him 
whether Gerry or Strong was governor of Massachusetts 
during a war ; and as he might have sent his message of 
disclosure at least twenty days sooner than he did, readers 
will judge whether there be, or not, grounds for suspecting, 
that the lime was chosen for the disclosure. If such was the 
intention, it met the defeat which it well deserved. Gerry 
was not elected. 



LETTER LX. 

December 15, 1833. 

Mr. Madison's war message was passed to the commit- 
tee of foreign relations in the House, a majority of which, 
viz, John C. Calhoun, S. C. ; Felix Grundy, Tenn. ; John 
Smilie, Penn. ; John A. Harper, N. H. ; Joseph Desha, 
Ken. ; and Ebenezer Seaver, Mass. agreed upon and re- 
ported a manifesto, as the basis of a declaration of war. If 
these gentlemen had not been under the high excitement 
arising under Jeffersonian influence, how could they have 
thought it to be dutiful and patriotic to recommend an of- 
fensive war, in the then state of Europe, and especially of 
their own country? The manifesto sets forth the old griev- 
ances of blockades, orders in council, and impressments, 
all of them measures affecting the comriiercial part of the 
nation. Three fourths at least of this part were to be found 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 267 

north of the Delaware. The act declaring war was dated 
the 18th of June, 1812. If the causes of war were such 
as to warrant this declaration, it might be expected, that 
those who were in favor of it would be found to be residents 
north of the Delaware, This was not so ; on the contrary 
the planters and lawyers of the south and of the west, and 
others from those quarters knew better, than northern citi- 
zens, what measures were necessary to protect their property 
and to vindicate their rights. 

In the House of Representatives the whole number of 
members was 128 ; of these 79 voted for the war ; and of 
these (79) 62 resided south and 17 north of the Delaware. 
The Senate consisted of 32 members, 19 of whom voted for 
the war, and 14 of these resided south of the Delaware ; and 
5 of the- 19 north. Putting together the war members of 
both branches, residing south of the Delaware, viz. 62 and 
14, they make 76; which is four short of half of the whole 
number in both branches. Thus the war may be said to 
have been a measure of the south and iccst, to take care of 
the interests of the north, much against the will of the latter. 
The whole number of members in both branches residing 
north of the Delaware was 68, of whom only 21 voted for 
the war. 

There is some ground for the opinion, that a portion of 
those members, who voted for the war in both branches, did 
so because circumstances forced them to express an assent 
contrary to their own convictions of duty. In truth, the 
Jeffersonian party had created an excitement, which the 
leaders could not control. There is one man now living, 
who has long been a tenant of a seat in the capitol, who can 
tell, if he would, with what extreme and foreboding reluct- 
ance he voted for the war, as the least of the appalling evils 
which haunted his mind and even his dreams. 

The probability is, that the members from the uiest ex- 
pected benefits from the war, which may have shut out all per- 
ceptions of expediency. They may have believed, that their 
own regions would be the scenes of activity, enterprise, and 
acquisition ; and they may have been careless of consequen- 
ces to the seaboard, leaving that to defend itself as it could. 
Our southern and western brethren saw fit to make the 
" experiment." Does any portion of them desire to see 
another of the same kind ? It is not intended to cast any 



268 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

reproach on those who proposed, or assented to the war ; 
but to show what the perils of the country must always be, 
when the government of it is submitted to party men. The 
tyranny of party among its own members is as inexorable 
and vindictive, as any which it exercises against its adver- 
saries. Consider the state of the Representatives of the 
nation at this moment. What prevents the House of Rep- 
resentatives from doing what a large majority of them in 
their consciences believe ought to be done for the relief of 
the country ? Are they not sensible men ? Are they not the 
sincere friends of their constituents 1 Are they not desirous, 
that their fellow citizens should enjoy all the benefits of in- 
dustry, and all means of independence and happiness ? 
Undoubtedly. Are they, then, fascinated by the intelli- 
gence, the virtues, and the public services of Andrew Jack- 
son ? Not at all. They probably think him a very unfit 
man for his station. By what spell, then, are they bound? 
By that all powerful one which Mr. Jefferson created. They 
are party men. Those, also, were party men who laid the 
embargo and who voted for war. The denunciation of their 
own partisans is more to be dreaded, than the dereliction of 
duty and the reproaches and contempt of their own constit- 
uents. It was the same spirit, in another form, which car- 
ried the arms of France throughout the continent of Europe, 
and occasioned the horrible scenes which disgraced the last 
ten years of the last century. The members of selfish par- 
ties may and often do hate each other, as men, most sin- 
cerely. There may be such instances in certain honorable 
assemblies of the present day. But this does not impair 
fidelity in the common cause. Thus it requires far greater 
magnanimity, than can ever be expected from party men, 
to do what they know to be right ; and to abstain from what 
they know to be wrong. The great leaders of the party in 
power now had rather see the whole country as desolate as 
a territory in Asia, after an army of locusts haVe encamped 
upon it, than to yield a single point of party. The correc- 
tive lies with the people ; they can set this matter right, and 
no other earthly power can. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 269 

LETTER LXI. 

January 2, 1834. 

The friends of peace resisted the declaration of war in 
Congress, with reason, good sense, faithful love of country, 
and serious eloquence ; but such weapons were powerless 
against the infatuation of party. 

They said, that neither the government nor the people 
were prepared for war ; that the removal of restrictions had 
induced the commercial part of our citizens to engage ex- 
tensively in shipments, and that many millions, not insured 
against war risks, would fall into the hands of the enemy. 
They insisted, that the nation was destitute of all means of an- 
noying the enemy on the ocean ; and that the whole effective 
force of the United States (independently of militia) was in- 
competent to defend any one of our seaports and cities. That 
an army could not be made in a day ; that, if the materials 
had been gathered, the officers and soldiers must undergo a 
course of discipline and camp experience, which the war- 
worn of Europe had declared could not be effected in less 
time, than a year. They insisted not only, that the countr^^ 
was utterly destitute of means to coerce an enemy, but I 
equally so of means of defence, if the enemy should become \ 
the assailants. ^ 

They urged that impressment was not a cause of war ; 
first, because war would not settle the right ; and secondly, 
because Great Britain had always been willing to negotiate. 
That all other subjects of controversy had passed away, but 
the orders in council. That whether England had, or had 
not a right to pass retaliatory orders, it was well known, 
that these orders would be rescinded as soon as France had 
annulled her decrees. That the administration had asserted 
what no rational being in the nation believed but themselves, 
viz. that these decrees were repealed. They further insisted, 
that the present time was precisely that in which a war 
should not be begun. They described the state of Europe 
as one which if there were no other reason, demanded delay. 
But this was not the most cogent reason. The government -^ 
could not carry on a war without money. It had no depen- / 
dence but on commercial revenue. War would greatly ' 
diminish, if not annihilate this. Loans, taxes, militia ser- 



23 



270 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

vice must be resorted to. Soon the enemy would be on our 
coasts, and, defenceless as they were and would continue to 
be, a comparatively small force could keep two thousand 
miles of seabord in continual, harassing, and costly alarm. 

If the object was the conquest of British provinces, there 
were no means prepared to this end ; none which could be 
prepared, before the whole force that could be organized 
would be required for the sole purpose of defence along our 
own shores. 

The friends of peace further urged upon the war party, 
that, if their purpose was the conquest of Canada, it was ifn- 
practicable, and worse than worthless, if it could be accom- 
plished. It is worth while to transcribe the opinion of that 
erratic administration-man, John Randolph, who was some- 
times very right in his views, whatever may be said of him 
at others. What he said in 1806, in committee of the whole, 
was as true in 1812, as then. 

" There are three points to be considered : 1. Our ability 
"■ to contend with great Britian. 2. The policy of such con- 
" test. 3. Conceding both these points, then the manner 
" in which we can, with the greatest effect, retort upon and 
" annoy our adversary. 

" Now the gentleman from Massachusetts has settled, at 
" a single sweep, not only, that we are capable of contend- 
" ing with Great Britain on the ocean, but that we are 
'^actually her superior ! Whence does the gentleman de- 
" duce this inference? Because truly, at that time, when 
" Great Britain was not mistress of the ocean, when a North 
" was her prime-minister and a Sanchcieh the first lord of 
" her admiralty ; when she was governed by a counting- 
" house administration; privateers of this country trespassed 
" on her commerce. So, too, did the cruisers of Dunkirk. 
" At that day Sujfrein held the mastery of the Indian seas. 
" But what is the case now ? Do gentlemen remember the 
" capture of Cornwallis on land, because De Grasse main- 
" tained the dominion of the ocean ? To my mind no posi- 
" tion is more clear, than, if we go to war with Great Britain, 
"Charleston, Boston, the Chesapeake, and the Hudson 
" will be invested with British squadrons. Will you call 
" on the Count Do Grasse to relieve them, or shall we apply 
"■ to the Admiral Gravina, or Admiral Villeneuve, to raise 
" the blockade ? But you have not only a prospect of gath- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 271 

" ering glory, and what seems to the gentleman of Massa- 
" chusetts much dearer, profit, by privateering ; but you 
" will be able to make a conquest of Canada and Nova 
"Scotia. Indeed! Then, Sir, we shall catch a Tartar. 
" I have no desire to see the Senators and Representatives of 
" the Canadian French, or of the tories and refugees of Nova 
" Scotia sitting on this door, or that of the other House ; to 
" see them becoming members of the Union and participat- 
" ing in our political rights. And on what other principle 
" would the gentleman from Massachusetts be for incorpo- 
" rating these provinces with us 1 Or, on what other prin- 
" ciple could it be done, under the constitution ? If the 
" gentleman has no other bounty to offer us for going to 
" war, than the incorporation of Canada and Nova Scotia, 
" I am for remaining at peace." 

Every one of the predictions of the friends of peace were 
sadly fulfilled ; and greater evils, than they foretold, were 
experienced by this misgoverned country. 

It is worth while to look at Europe, to judge of the time 
which Mr. Madison selected to go to war with England. 

Napoleon had reduced the whole of Europe to his abso- 
lute dominion, or to a state of dependence little short of it, 
as far eastwardly and northwardly as the confines of Turkey 
and Russia. There was still, in some parts of Europe, the 
sJiow of independent powers, but it was nothing more. He 
had placed three of his brothers on thrones ; one in Spain, 
one in Holland, one in Westphalia. One of his generals, 
Murat, was king of Naples and husband of his sister. He 
had first beaten the emperor of Austria, and then divorced 
Josephine, to marry the emperor's daughter. He was king 
of Rome, until he gave that title to his infant son, A 
French general was on the throne of Sweden, and had 
entered into the continental system. Russia alone stood 
out and continued her commerce, so far as French pri- 
vateers would permit, through the Baltic. It is a curious 
fact, that Archangel, in north latitude sixty-four, on the 
shores of the White Sea, was, in this derangement of Eu- 
rope by Napoleon, the principal port of entry for all En- 
glish and American merchandise, which could find its way 
into the continent. A considerable amount of American 
property was burnt at Moscow, when that city was destroyed, 
after Napoleon had taken possession of it. 



272 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

England had resisted this terrible aggrandizement. She 
had her thousand ships and had made herself the mistress 
of the seas. Her maritime force had no enemy to contend 
with ; she had driven every thing, that dared to show a 
hostile flag, from the ocean ; excepting that sometimes a 
French squadron would steal a flight along the waves, to 
shun English ships and burn those of Americans. 

It was under such circumstances, that Mr. Madison chose, 
for this commercial nation, England for an enemy, and Na- 
poleon for an ally ! As the federalists dared to denounce 
this abominable policy, they were in fact included, though 
not expressly named, in his manifesto of war. 



LETTER LXII. 

January 7, 1834. 

It is remarkable, that on the 24th day of June, 1812, 
hostilities commenced between Napoleon and Russia, and 
that on the 18th of the same month, war was declared 
by the United States against England. During the spring 
of that year. Napoleon had been preparing for this war, 
because Russia did not interdict the merchandise of Great 
Britain. Having assembled his forces, he departed on the 
9th of May from his palace of St. Cloud, to prosecute his 
enterprise. It is also remarkable, that no change had 
occurred in the negotiations with England, which should 
have induced a declaration of war, in the month of June, 
1812, rather than at any other time within several preceding 
months. It was said and believed, that the embargo was 
known in France to be an intended measure, while it was 
not suspected in the United States ; and it is certain, that 
war was known in France to be determined on, although 
no rational man in the United States supposed, that the 
administration would have the hardihood to propose it. 
Was there, or not, a secret understanding, or agreement 
between the French and American governments, that, as 
soon as France was ready to attack the only power in 
Europe, which had not bound itself to maintain the " con- 
tinental system," the United States should declare war 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 273 

against England 1 Notwithstanding Mr. Madison assigned 
the old causes for the war, he lies under the very serious 
imputation of having had other causes at heart; nothing 
short of having unnecessarily and wantonly engaged his 
own country in war, for the mere purpose of aiding Napo- 
leon to prostrate his enemy. However this matter may have 
been guarded from the perception of his fellow citizens, if 
the fact was so, Mr. Madison's integrity and fidelity will be 
severely tried by impartial history. In truth, there was 
nothing to gain by war, which negotiation would not have 
gained ; and the treaty of peace settled no one of the con- 
troverted points. 

The first event after the declaration of war, that attracted 
the public attention, was the address of the minority of the 
House of Representatives. A more rational, interesting, 
and dignified paper has not appeared since the institution 
of the government. In manner, it is much superior to the 
Declaration of Independence. This paper sets forth the 
state of the country at that time, the course adopted to 
obtain the presence and purposes of the war ; it is an in- 
sulated paper and not easily to be found ; but it is due 
to its writer and signers, that it should be kept in memory. 

The declaration of war, though feared, was so serious and 
shocking to a large portion of the community, that it could 
only be likened to the distressing certainty of affliction to 
surrounding relatives, when death has thrown his dart at 
some lingering victim. While life remains, there is still 
some vague and undefined hope ; — and while war was not 
declared, there was yet a sentiment, that a calamity so 
unnecessary, so oppressive, and so ruinous, would not be 
forced upon the country. 

It should be remembered, that the seaboard had not been 
fortified ; the navy had not been augmented ; the army had 
not yet been increased ; nothing had been done to fill the 
treasury — the whole country was on a peace establishment. 
Within the first month of the war, an unconstitutional de- 
mand was made on the governors of Massachusetts and 
Connecticut for militia, even before the news of this aston- 
ishing measure could have reached the British Isles, and 
three months before there was the slightest probability, that 
the United States could be invaded. This demand proved 
to be in prosecution of the design to invade and conquer 



274 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

Canada with militia ! If every subject and soldier in 
Canada had been willing, that the militia should take quiet 
possession of that country, what good would this have done 
to the people of the United States? During this profitless 
conflict, the attempt at conquest was continued, but without 
advancing a dozen miles into that territory at any time; 
while, on the other hand, the British became invaders ; but, 
as should be, were driven within their own lines on this 
frontier. 

The military and naval character of the war it is not the 
present purpose to describe. All this went on like other 
wars, with the exception, that it soon became defensive on 
our part.* Mr. Madison's ally, Napoleon, found a more 
powerful and determined enemy, than he expected ; and 
another enemy, little expected and not at all provided for, 
even by this far-sighted chief Every body knows, that the 
burning of Moscow and the bitterness of the winter anni- 
hilated the hosts of the Emperor, and that he hurried home 
to repair his disasters, but found his way to Elba. The fall 
of Napoleon was also the fall of Mr. Madison. The peace 
of Europe, in the spring of 1814, left England at leisure to 
attend to the enemy who had sought to overwhelm her in 
her deepest distress. The war had assumed a ferocious 



* In what manner that philosophical philanthropist, Thomas JeflFer- 
son, desired to have the war carried on, appears from the following 
extract. 

Jefferson writes to Monroe, January 1, 1815, vol. iv. p. 245 : " But 
" however these two difficulties of men and money may be disposed 
" of, it is fortunate, (hat neither of them will affect our war by sea. 
" Privateers will find their own men and money. Let nothing be 
" spared to encourage them. They are the dagger which strikes at 
" the heart of the enemy, their commerce, l* rigates and seventy- 
" fours are a saciifice we must make, heavy as it is, to the prejudices 
" of a part of our citizens. They have, indeed, rendei-ed a great 
" moral service, which has delighted me as much as any one in the 
" United States. But they have had no physical effect, sensible to the 
" enemy ; and now, while we must fortify them in our harbors, and 
" keep armies to defend them, our privateers are bearding and block- 
" ading the enemy in their own ports." (Who, but Thomas Jefferson, 
" knew this fact ?) " Encourage them to burn all their prizes, and 
" let the public pay for them. They will cheat us enormously. No 
" matter ; they will make the merchants of England feel, and squeal, 
" and cry out for peace." 

dir This is the wise and moral Mr. Jefferson ! None but pirates 
burn ships at sea. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 275 

character, little creditable to either of the parties, according 
to the rules of modern warfare. The burning of public 
buildings, and of private dwellings, is unworthy of modern 
military strife. These are matters within every one's reach, 
who does not but desires to know them. The purpose now 
in view is to notice the character of the times, which his- 
tory will not notice. 

If any one desires to see the best vindication, which 
appeared, of the conduct of the administration in the war, 
he will find it in an elaborate production, entitled " An Ex- 
position of the Causes and Character of the late War." 
This was dated February 10, 1815, and was attributed to 
Mr. Dallas, then Secretary of the Treasury. 

Independently of the vassalage of party, a small propor- 
tion of the citizens of New England approved of the war. 
Public opinion soon began to manifest itself in popular 
meetings. Resolutions were passed, expressing in decided 
terms the feelings of a free, intelligent, and indignant peo- 
ple. Conventions were held in the different counties, not 
by any concert, but spontaneously. That at Northampton, 
at which fifty-six towns were represented, attracted particu- 
lar attention. A preamble and resolutions were there adopt- 
ed, prepared with great ability and genuine patriotic spirit. 
In the county of Worcester a convention was held, in like 
spirit, and remarkable for a pointed paraphrase of the decla- 
ration of independence. 

On the 15th of July, a great meeting was held at Faneuil 
Hall, and resolutions were then adopted, well worthy of the 
place and of the occasion. Among others who were heard 
at this time was Daniel Sargent, a distinguished mer- 
chant, who disclosed the fatal consequences to commercial 
interests, and to all classes who are connected with and 
dependent on them. Josiah Q,uincy, just then returned 
from Congress, made known to his auditors, with his accus- 
tomed fervor and eloquence, the scenes which he had wit- 
nessed, and the true character and designs of the adminis- 
tration. He was followed by Harrison Guay Otis, then 
in the full vigor of manhood, as to whom, with all the 
abatement which should be made for the high excitement 
of the times, this description of his feelings and expressions 
(as published then) is not too highly colored. 



276 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



" It is unnecessary to say more, than that he renewed, 
" with his pathetic and glowing eloquence, that enthusiasm 
" which has been so often excited in the breasts of his fellow 
" citizens, by his patriotic and masterly speeches : orations 
" they should bo called ; for, like Demosthenes, rousing the 
" Athenians to watchfulness against Philip, his addresses 
" have awakened the citizens of Boston to a virtuous jeal- 
" ousy of the intrigues of France, and of those who are 
" co-operating with her ruler, to destroy the liberties and 
" happiness of mankind." 

Such reception of the war in New England was highly 
displeasing to Mr. Madison and to his political party. To 
his mind it was conclusive evidence, that the land of the 
pilgrims was sold to the enemy ; and that the war was as 
necessary against its inhabitants, as against the government, 
fleets, and armies of Great Britain. But the descendants 
of the pilgrims had sold neither their land, their opinions, 
nor their consciences. How it is now, in some portion of 
the New England states, is not so certain. It may be that 
the press, the post-offices, and " the standing army of forty 
thousand " * may have deluded some of our fellow citizens ; 
and may control a majority in more states than one. But 
this will not last long. The people of New England are 
sensible and discerning. The day is at hand, when they 
will do justice to themselves and to those who have cheated 
and defrauded them, to advance their own power and to 
increase their own riches. In the day of adversity, this 
people consider ; and no people are better qualified than 
themselves, to understand cause and effect, when they do 
consider. 

* In a speech in the Senate, Mr. Clay estimated the number of 
devoted partisans in office, in the United States, and who, from the 
mere tenure of office, are pledged to sustain " the government," (as 
President Jackson calls himself.) in all it has done, is doing, means 
to do, or can do, at " forty thousand." He properly calls them a 
standing army, since they command more opinions and votes, than 
forty thousand bayonets could. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 277 



LETTER LXIII. 

January 9, 1834. 
All citizens now alive, who were old enough to know 
the character of the war in relation to the opponents of the 
administration, remember, and will remember while they 
live, that they were identified with the chosen and public 
enemy of the United States. They were charged with ad- 
hering to and giving aid and assistance to the enemy ; with 
treason, and with the design to re-establish the dominion of 
Great Britain in their native land ! What was the evidence ? 
Opposition to Mr. Madison ! Opposition, for the reasons, and 
none other, which are contained in the address of the minor- 
ity of Congress to their constituents. Terror sealed the 
lips of thousands in free America, concerning the conduct 
and motives of their own elected rulers. If the burning of 
Moscow and the freezing of Napoleon's hosts had not hap- 
pened, it is not hazardous to assert, that the press and the 
tongue would have been used in the United States for no 
other public purpose, than to subserve, applaud, and honor 
Jefferson, Madison, and their adherents. What would have 
prevented military executions, the action of the guillotine, 
and the confiscation of the fortunes of traitors? Nothing but 
the native spirit of New England could have prevented it ; 
the spirit that descended from the pilgrim fathers. As 
soon as the horrible transactions, which occurred in Balti- 
more in the last ten days of July, were known in Boston, 
the proper spirit of the citizens was manifested. In that 
city there was an undue proportion of " oppressed humani- 
ty," which had sought " an asylum " there ; and they be- 
came most effective allies in Madison's war. A meeting 
was held at Faneuil Hall on the 6th of August, and reso^ 
lutions were passed, among which was the following : " Re- 
" solved, that we are alarmed, astonished, and confounded, 
" to find that a paper published at the seat of government, 
" and which is understood, on some occasions, to be its 
" organ, not only led the way to these scenes of confusion, 
" but has impliedly approved and justified them ; and that 
" while no mention is made of this late horrible massacre, 
" in which the blood of our oldest revolutionary officers 
24 



278 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" flowed in the streets, a severe commentary was issued in 
" that paper against a republican magistrate of New York, 
" because he expressed his abhorrence of mobs. We will 
" not admit the conclusion, which these facts would seem 
" to warrant, that these mobs are not discountenanced by 
" the Executive of the United States. We would rather 
" consider them as of Frcnrh origin, and the first fruits of 
" that unnatural and dreadful alliance, into which we have 
" entered in fact, if not in form." 

The citizens of Boston took very effective measures, that 
no such "fruits " should be known among them ; whether 
any such were intended or not. There is no reason to sup- 
pose, that these citizens will, in any future time, be regard- 
less of their duties, either to their country, or to themselves. 
The principal object of the disgraceful scenes at Balti- 
more was to silence the Federal Republican, a paper edited 
by Alexander Hanson, who was afterwards a member of 
Congress. The same General Lee, who was the Governor 
of Virginia and the congressional eulogist of Washington, 
carried the effects of that assault to his grave years after- 
wards. It was seen with indignant astonishment, that no 
reprobation of such measures came, directly or indirectly, 
from Mr. Madison. It was believed, that he did not disap- 
prove of them. If rumors are entitled to credit, he was 
given to understand, that, if any such scenes occurred in the 
city of Washington, he would be held responsible in his 
own jjerson. 

These are no fictions, but realities, as thousands now liv- 
ing can testify. Did Mr. Madison mean to break through 
all constitutional restraints, and establish himself as a tyrant 
over his fellow citizens ? Not at all. Mr. Madison was 
acting, as he believed, constitutionally and as s. patriot. It 
was constitutional and patriotic to annihilate the natural 
and determined enemy of France ; and to silence and make 
odious every citizen who dared to say it was not so. Mr. 
Madison is not to be charged with tyianny, nor with disre- 
garding the constitution and laws ; but he is to be held up 
as an example, and a terrible one too, of what party may 
do in a republic, when a ruler believes that the people, 
(as he calls them,) will sustain him. Mr. Madison has been 
long enough at leisure to review his political career again 
and again ; long enough for the mists of party to clear away 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 279 

from before his vision ; long enough to know, if he looks out 
upon the world, how some of his opponents lived, and what 
their countrymen did in honor of their fame ; and how those 
who yet live are esteemed, whom he called traitors and en- 
emies of his country. 

The conscientious opponents of the national administra- 
tion had reason to apprehend, and did believe, that opposi- 
tion was to be silenced by violence and terror : that they 
were, by such means, to be deprived of the right of judgino- 
for themselves of the wisdom, fidelity, and purposes of their 
own trustees and public servants. They felt, that the power, 
which had been created for the security of life, person, and 
property, was to be used to make all these objects secondary 
to the will of a dominant faction. They found it necessary 
to combine to obtain that protection, which their rulers 
seemed voluntarily to have withdrawn. 

For such reasons, and none other, they associated them- 
selves under the name of Washington Benevolent Societies 
throughout the state. They had regular meetings; quar- 
terly addresses ; and annual orations. The members of 
this society in Boston were of all the various classes. The 
different vocations among the mechanics had their respec- 
tive banners, bearing appropriate emblems of their callings; 
there were other banners which bore the insignia of peace, 
union, fidelity, and patriotism. In the annual processions 
these banners w^ere carried through the streets. These 
societies were not like jacobin clubs, or " secret societies," 
as Washington called them, instituted to overawe the govern- 
ment in the exercise of its powers ; but to maintain the rights 
of free and independent citizens. Not a sentiment was 
ever expressed, in these societies, inconsistent with the alle- 
giance due to the constitution and to the union. On the 
contrary, there is no doubt, that they tended to preserve 
that allegiance, to preserve the union, and sustain the com- 
munity through its discouraging oppressions. The frowns 
and attempts of the war party to make these societies objects 
of suspicion, and to render them odious, served only to 
strengthen them, and convince their members of their utility 
and necessity. If the day shall ever come, when the like 
perils shall overtake the good citizens of the United States, 
let them remember this example. When the causes which 
produced these combinations ceased, these also ceased ; but 



280 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

their banners are still preserved ; and are occasionally pro- 
duced to decorate the " cradle of liberty." 



LETTER LXIV. 

January 13, 1834. 

In the course of the summer of 1812, there was some 
reason to hope, that Mr. Madison had become sufficiently 
unpopular by his war measures, to lose a re-election. De 
Witt Clinton was then a person of some distinction in the 
state of New York. He had expressed his detestation of 
mobocracy, and had been reprimanded for it in a govern- 
ment paper. Although he had been ranked with the Jeffer- 
sonian school, yet, as he had indicated his dissatisfaction 
with the policy of Mr. Madison, it was hoped, that he might 
be elected President. Any man, that could have been 
elected, would have been thought by the federalists prefer- 
able to Mr. Madison. This party were willing to combine 
with any portion of the citizens, who were willing to with- 
draw from the support of that gentleman. They felt, that 
any change must be for the better. 

Measures were taken to hold a convention in the city of 
New York, in the month of September, 1812. No con- 
vention was ever assembled from more pure and patriotic 
motives, nor any, whose members were more worthy and 
respectable, as men and citizens. Many of them had filled 
exalted stations ; and were afterwards honored with high 
confidence by their fellow citizens and by executive appoint- 
ment. If this page should ever fall under the eye of any 
surviving member of that assembly, it may remind him of 
the solemnity and dignity of the proceedings then had ; he 
can answer for himself for the purity and patriotism of his 
own motives ; he will remember the fervent eloquence there 
displayed; and the dreadful apprehensions then entertained 
for the fate of his country. 

This convention continued three days. It resolved on 
supporting De Witt Clinton, as the best chance of defeating 
Mr. Madison's election. This measure was adopted with 
reluctance by some who were present. They could not 



ON PUBLIC CHAUACTEKS. 281 

overcome the repugnance which they felt to supporting 
Mr. Clinton ; there were others who feared, that he had not 
strength and popularity enough, in his own state, to be 
successful. A large majority of the convention, however, 
determined on making the proper effort to elect him. All 
the New England states, (except Vermont,) New York, 
New Jersey, Delaware, Tennessee, and Louisiana voted for 
Mr. Clinton, and five votes out of eleven in Maryland, were 
given for him ; eighty-nine in all. Mr. Madison had one 
hundred and twenty-eight ; making a difference of thirty- 
nine. But the Pennsylvania votes (twenty-one in number) 
having been rejected, tl;e majority was reduced to eighteen. 
It is supposed, that with a better management, and with a 
candidate more attractive than Mr. Clinton may have been, 
Mr. Madison's election might have been defeated. Under 
almost any other President, the war would have been much 
shortened ; and the people of the United States might have 
escaped a portion of their distress, and have saved many 
millions, expended almost for the only purpose of producing 
it. 

This convention consisted of seventy members. There 
were from Vermont, two ; from New Hampshire, two ; from 
Massachusetts, eight ; from Rhode Island, three ; from New 
York, eighteen ; from Connecticut, six ; from New Jersey, 
twelve ; from Pennsylvania, ten ; from Delaware, two ; from 
Maryland, three ; from South Carolina, tour. 



LETTER LXV. 

January 15, 1834. 

As before remarked, it is not intended to follow out the 
naval and military events of the war. These will be found 
in history already written, which, like other history, delights 
to show when and how mortals have butchered each other. 
When war exists, those who are to do the fighting are not 
much concerned with the right and the wrong of the matter. 
Those who originate the war, from whatsoever cause, know, 
that to carry it on and fight the battles is resolved into 
24* 



282 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

patriotism ; and that whoever is opposed to it is, of course, 
a traitor. 

There were disasters, and some reprehensible measures, 
on the part of those to whom the belligerent duties were as- 
signed. But there were, also, some brilliant achievements 
on land and on the ocean, and especially on the latter. 
The navy fought itself into credit and renown, at home and 
abroad ; and has most deservedly been, ever since, a favorite 
with the nation. 

But the war went on heavily, as a whole. The navy was 
not of sufficient magnitude to form a fleet, excepting on the 
lakes ; the regular army had some fine officers, and some 
who were of other descriptions. The rank and file were 
such, probably, as other armies are made up of; but they 
were new in their occupation, and few of them had ever 
seen a battle when they enlisted. The militia were as good 
as such forces are ever expected to be at repelling invasion ; 
and not better than might be expected in the serious em- 
ployment of conquest. 

Meanwhile the liberation of the experienced soldiery of 
England, from European contests, permitted them to appear 
on our shores ; and our gallant little navy was incompetent 
to meet a foe on salt water, except sometimes in single 
ships. 

As was foreseen, the treasury was soon exhausted. Al- 
most every form of taxation was resorted to. It soon came 
to the necessity of issuing paper money from the treasury, 
which was called exchequer bills. These rapidly depreci- 
ated and fell to twenty per cent, below their nominal value. 
Capitalists would not lend money to carry on a war which 
they considered unnecessary and ruinous ; and they were 
severely reproached because they would not. The enemy 
were now strong enough with fleets, to blockade all the 
great ports of the continent ; and had troops enough to 
harass the whole sea coast, from the British Provinces to the 
Mississippi. That great resource which " the gentleman 
from Massachusetts " (as Mr. Randolph said) relied on, was 
not found so eftectual as had been anticipated. " Priva- 
teering " was not much approved of, and but few engaged 
in it. But few of those who did so engage grew rich from 
their adventures. 

Thus, in less than two years, Mr. Madison and his co- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 283 

patriots had reduced this whole country to a state of misery 
and degradation, much resembling that which it experienced 
at the close of the revolutionary war. 

In this state of things, bereft as the administration was of 
the confidence of the country, and absolutely bankrupt in 
resources, a measure was devised to command men, for 
naval and land service, which was as unconstitutional and 
as abhorrent to the feelings of the citizens, as the condition 
of our rulers was desperate. Mr. Madison directed his 
Secretary of State, (and Secretary of War pro tern, on dis- 
missing incompetent men in that office,) Mr. Monroe, to pro- 
pose to Congress a system of impressment more odious, than 
was ever known in England, and a conscription more shock- 
ing, than had ever been experienced in France. It seems 
to have been no objection, in the minds of these gentlemen, 
that their system would have demolished by one and the 
same blow, the personal rights of the citizen, the rights of 
property, and the provisions for the security of these, in the 
constitutions, both state and national. The true character 
of this measure is disclosed in " Dwight's History of the 
Hartford Convention," pages 311-336. Every American 
citizen ought to study this, to know what the rulers of a 
republic can sometimes dare to do. The Congress of that 
day, submissive as it was to the will of the Executive, or 
submissive as the Executive may have been to its will, 
(as the truth may be,) had not the hardihood to give to 
this proposal the form of law ; though it came near to that 
point. 

Congress was called together by the President, on the 
19th of September, (1814.) The message disclosed the 
deplorable state of the country, as to credit and force to 
carry on the war, and called on Congress to exert all its 
energies. Congress inquired of Mr. Monroe, then lately 
appointed (or acting) Secretary of War, what he had to 
propose. It was not until the 17th of October, that he 
presented his conscription plan. This was made public, 
and was as thoroughly discussed out of Congress, as by its 
members. Eighty thousand men were by a law proposed 
by Mr. Giles, to be submitted to the conscription, probably 
as the first call. The law passed the House, 84 to 72 ; the 
term of service to be one year ; and that the President 
might call directly on the militia officers for the men, in case 



284 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

the governors of states refused, on request of the President, 
to detach and surrender the required number. 

The Senate insisted, that the term of service should be 
two years, and that the President should not have the power 
to call on the militia officers, if the governors of states 
refused to comply with his call. So the two branches dis- 
agreed. When the subject came again before the Senate, 
Mr. Rufus King moved to postpone the bill to the second 
Monday of March, (a day beyond that at which the session 
was to close,) which was carried, ]4 to 13. Thus nar- 
rowly did the citizens of the United States escape the 
conscription. 

It is highly probable, that, if it had been attempted to en- 
force the system of impressment and military conscription, 
by Icno, the government would have come to an end. The 
citizens of the United States could not, and would not have 
submitted themselves to its operation. 

It is a long time since military conscription was familiarly 
spoken of in this country. As some future administration 
may venture on the like measure, it may not be useless to 
speak of it briefly, as it existed in France, from which 
country it was undoubtedly borrowed, to be applied to our 
own. 

The world had, for a long time, regarded with terror and 
abhorrence the military ascendency of France. It was 
seen, that French armies were every where victorious by the 
combination of skill and numbers. Skill could be accounted 
for. Young and ambitious generals, called to command in 
right of talents, and not of family, or princely favor, could 
hazard life, and make their followers emulate their example ; 
and numbers, thoroughly drilled and animated by French 
enthusiasm, could do all that was required for conquest. 
But how these myriads were drawn forth was not so easily 
understood. 

To Mr. Robert WalsJi, now of Philadelphia, must be 
given the honor of having disclosed to Europe, as well as to 
his own country, the true causes of the military power of 
France. When Mr. Walsh was yet a very young man, he 
had diligently investigated the origin and character of this 
power, and published the result in the Edinburgh Review 
in the year 1809. This essay was sufficiently attractive to 
have been translated into all the languages of Europe. 



ON PUULIC CHARACTERS. 285 

After Mr. Walsh returned to the United States, lie published 
another work early in 1812, entitled " A Letter on the Ge- 
" nius and Dispositions of the French Government, includino- 
" a View of the Taxation of the French Empire." 

This production was also translated into all the languao-es 
of Europe. Several editions of both works were published 
in the United States. Before these labors of Mr. Walsh 
were thus published and made known, there was an unde- 
fined terror of Frencli power, which made a war with Eno-- 
land exceedingly dreaded, because an inevitable conse- 
quence was held to be an alliance with France. When the 
pages of Mr. Walsh had been read, contrary to the common 
maxim, that undefined apprehension is more terrific than the 
reality, it was made clear to every thoughtful mind, that 
nothing which had been imagined of the fraud ^nd force of 
France had come even near to the truth. An edition of 
Mr. Walsh's exposition of France was published by subscrip- 
tion in Massachusetts, to be circulated gratis, so that the 
people might judge of the sort of dominion under which they 
were sure to come, in the event of a war with England. 

Mr. John Howard, son of Governor Howard of Maryland, 
also published a work on French conscription. This work 
shows, what Mr. Madison, as President, and Mr. Monroe, 
his Secretary, really intended, and desired to impose on 
their fellow-citizens, in the form of military conscription for 
the conquest of Canada. But then it should be remembered 
not only, that the free citizens of America were to endure all 
the miseries to which French population were subjected, but 
also, that the proposed system here was most obviously a 
mere tyranny, and amounted to an absolute repeal of all 
constitutional security. 

Whenever the measures of government are such as to 
come home to daily bread and to personal liberti/, Americans 
will stop to inquire, and will not be contented with any 
thing short of the truth. This odious conscription was thor- 
oughly understood. If it had assumed the form of law, and 
if it had been attempted to enforce that law, no doubt the 
citizens would have armed and might have marched ; but 
not, it is believed, to Canada. 



286 FAMILIAR LETTERS 



LETTER LXVI. 

January 19, 1834. 

In the summer of the year 1814, the enemy had taken 
possession of so much of the state of Maine, as extends from 
the British provinces to the Penobscot ; and had absolute 
command in all the neighbouring waters. The head-quar- 
ters of the enemy were at Castine ; and one frigate ventured 
to ascend quite up to Bangor. It is believed, that there was 
not a single soldier in the service of the United States, any- 
where within the limits of New England, unless towards the 
northern frontier. It was rumored and believed, that a 
British force was about to embark in England and Ireland, 
under the command of General Hill, for the special purpose 
of invading New England. The troops thus expected had 
been in the battles of Europe, and were likely to be very 
unwelcome visiters. 

Governor Strong was advised by his Council, to call the 
legislature together, and to lay before them the state of the 
country. The leading men who were to be present in the 
legislature, and others, whose judgment was respected, fre- 
quently compared opinions on the deplorable condition to 
which the country was reduced, and on the possible means 
of resisting invasion, and securing themselves, their families, 
and fellow-citizens from the evils which were impending. 

Utterly abandoned as New England was by the national 
government, there was no alternative but to use its own 
means of protection. The general sentiment was, that the 
New England states 7m(f;t combine to save themselves, by 
their own force and resources, from becoming a conquered 
country. The terror of the conscription system, on the one 
side, and the terror of invasion, on the other, had produced 
a popular excitement, which made it inevitable, that some- 
thing must be done under state outhority, to prevent evils, 
the consequences of which could be more easily dreaded, 
than remedied when present. 

Under such circumstances, the legislature assembled. 
After the most serious deliberation, it was resolved, that as 
the perils, to which Massachusetts was subjected, were com- 
mon to all the New England maritime states, that a common 



ON PUBLIC CIIAUACTERS. 287 

cause should be made among them all ; and that to effect 
this object, delegates should be invited to assemble at Hart- 
ford on the 15th day of December following ; and that 
reports should be made to the legislatures of their respective 
states. 

The members of this convention, as stated by Mr. Dwiaht, 
in page 351 of his work, were these : From 3Iassa(fiusctts, 
George Cabot, Nathan Dane, William Prescott, Harrison 
Gray Otis, Timothy Bigelow, Joshua Thomas, Samuel 
Sumner Wilde, Joseph Lyman, George Bliss, Stephen 
Longfellow, jr., Daniel Waldo, and Hodijah Baylies. From 
Connecticut, Cliauiicey Goodrich, John Treadwell, James 
Hillhouse, Zephaniah Swift, Nathaniel Smith, Calvin God- 
dard, and Roger Minot Sherman. From Rhode Island, 
Daniel Lyman, Samuel W\ard, Edward Manton, and Benja- 
min Hazard. From New Hampshire, Benjamin West, and 
Mills Olcott. From Vermont, AVilliam Hall, jr. The three 
last members were chosen by local conventions, and not by 
legislative authority. 

[The appearance of Mr. Theodore Dwight's History of 
the Hartford Convention has diminished the number of 
pages originally intended for this volume. Some materials 
which would have been used have been so much better used 
by him, than they could have been on this occasion, that 
whoever desires the most accurate information on the train 
of events which led to the necessity of a convention, will be 
sure to find it in Mr. Dwight's volume. Some reference 
must be made to the same events, to connect the general 
course of things, but in a very brief manner.] 

The History of the Hartford Convention, published by 
Theodore Dwight, is a triumphant vindication of the con- 
duct and character of the opposition in New England. 
Every position assumed by this writer, in relation to the 
ruinous party measures of the administration, is proved by 
documents proceeding from that administration. Every po- 
sition assumed in relation to the patriotism of the members 
of this opposition, to their fidelity to the constitution, and 
attachment to the Union, is proved by documents which no 
perversion of party zeal, no effort at popular delusion, can 
ever discredit. All his positions are sustained by a clear 
and cogent course of argument, which, while it confers a 
lasting honor on the writer, will carry conviction to all 



288 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

honest and impartial minds, in generations to come. This 
writer is also sustained by the character, the conduct, and 
the lives of the men who constituted the leaders of opposition, 
and who gave to all opposition its tone. 

To those who read and think, to all who sincerely support 
pure republican government, to all who believe, that such 
government can be secured only by a just and faithful exer- 
cise of state and national authority, Mr. Dwight's volume is 
earnestly recommended. 

The positions which Mr. Dwight has assumed and 
proved to all men, who can divest themselves of party pre- 
judice, are the following : 

First. From the time of Mr. Jefferson's first appearance 
in the national government until he left it, he was disposed 
to favor France and to prostrate England ; and that he 
used all the powers confided to him to these ends, however 
sincere and honest he may have been in the prosecution of 
such policy. 

Scconcllt/. That Mr. Madison was not only his successor, 
but the faithful promoter of the same policy, and from the 
same motives. 

Thirdly. That Mr. Madison fostered all the causes of 
hostility which existed between the United States and Eng- 
land ; while he either overlooked, or tolerated far greater 
aggressions on the part of France, than England ever com- 
mitted in retaliation of French measures. 

Fourthly. That Mr Madison, in his first presidential 
term, recommended a declaration of war against England, 
either because he approved of that measure himself; or 
because he was assured, that, if he did not recommend it, 
he could not be elected a second time. 

Fifthly. That the real causes of the war were the 
motives before stated, while the ostensible causes of the 
war were the orders in council and the impressment of 
seamen. 

Sixthly. That the time chosen for this declaration was 
one, in which the great cities of the Atlantic shore were not 
provided with defence ; when there was no source of revenue 
but commerce, which war would annihilate ; when there 
was a maritime force too small to deserve that name, com- 
pared with the like force of the enemy ; and when there 
were no land forces, but such as could be had from the 
militia and from hurried enlistment. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 289 

SevenMy. That the time chosen for this declaration 
was that, when Napoleon was on the inarch to subdue the 
only power on the continent of Europe, which had resisted 
his measures for the subjugation of England ; and who mov- 
ed with a force so commanding, as seemed to bid defiance 
to the fortunes of war and the reverses of unforeseen events. 

Eighthly. That the first effort, in the prosecution of this 
offensive war, was an unconstitutional demand on the gover- 
nors of Massachusetts and Connecticut for bodies of militia, 
not to 7'cpel invasion, hut to make a conquest. 

Ninthly. That the territory intended to be conquered 
was the Canadas ; that this measure was persevered in 
througliout the war ; that the sea-coast was left defenceless 
by the administration, and that these causes led to a defen- 
sive war, in which a portion of our own territory was con- 
quered. 

Tcnthly. That the administration became destitute of 
resources ; was compelled to resort to oppressive taxation ; 
to issue paper money which depreciated twenty per cent. ; 
and that its credit was too much impaired, to have carried 
on even a defensive war, if the New England states had not 
interposed their credit and physical force, under their own 
authority, to defend themselves and their own homes. 

Eleventhly. That the war assumed a vindictive and fe- 
rocious character ; and that the only alternative which the 
government could discern was to propose conscription 

and IMPRESSMENT. 

Tioelfthly. That in this extremity of distress, three of 
the New England states, by the act of their legislatures, 
ordered a convention of delegates, — for what? Not to dis- 
solve the Union, not to oppose the administration, but to be 
permitted to employ, under the sanction of the United States, 
their own credit and their own physical force, in defence of 
their own territory, property, and fire-sides ; duties which 
constitutionally belonged to the national government, but 
which that government had first neglected, and then became 
unable to perform. 

Lastly. This convention, smarting under the perversion 
of constitutional power, properly took that occasion to pro- 
pose some amendments of the constitution, and among 
others, such as might prevent the recurrence of commercial 
restrictions, and the presence of desolating war, by the vota 
25 



290 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

of a bare majority in the two branches of Congress ; and 
the assent of one man exercising executive power. 



LETTER LXVII. 

January 24, 1834. 

The Hartford Convention was a rich and inexhaustible 
fund of abuse and crimination, for many years. Those 
persons, who knew the least of the causes which led to it, 
and nothing of the motives of those who were its members, 
were the most busy, and the most malignant calumniators. 
It is now mere matter of history. Its members and their 
associates are, mostly, beyond the hearing of earthly cen- 
sure, or praise ; and those who survive have nothing to hope, 
or to fear from their fellow-citizens, connected with this 
subject. But they have, themselves, some interest in that 
impartial judgment of posterity, for which Mr. Jefferson 
has taken such unfortunate measures to prepare himself. 

Perhaps such of that posterity, as care to know anything 
of gone by events and persons, will review the first twelve 
years, and the next sixteen years, of the national administra- 
tion. Perhaps some of their number will read Mr. Dwight's 
book. Perhaps they will know the real and hopeless dis- 
tress, to which Mr. Madison had reduced New England. 
Perhaps they will discern the true political character of those 
who made the war, and of those who proposed, held, or ap- 
proved of the convention. History is said to be little declar- 
ative of real motives — and that those of one generation 
cannot be well instructed in facts, as they occurred among 
former ones. But if history does not make extraordinary 
blunders on this subject, it may perhaps be received as truth, 
that the Hartford Convention did much to presci've the 
Union, and nothing towards dissolving it. It may also be 
believed, that if that spirit, out of which the convention 
arose, had not been manifested, this country would, in Mr. 
Madison's time, have submitted to a despotism, which it 
could not have shaken off but " through blood and slaugh- 
ter," as Mr. Jefferson says, in recovering not " long lost," 
but very lately lost " liberty." 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 291 

It is to be hoped, that these historical students will know, 
that the alleged causes of the war were the orders in coun- 
cil and impressment ; that the former were in fact repealed 
six days after the declaration of war ; that Mr. Madison 
refused an armistice proposed by admiral Berkeley, after he 
knew of the repeal ; that he carried on a war, much more 
against his own country, in effect, than against the enemy, 
for two years, to maintain the principle of protecting all 
who sail under the American merchant flag ; a principle 
which he well knew England would concede, as soon as 
Mr. Jefferson could leave his "clover fields" to have the 
pleasure of dining with Mons. Le General Pichegru in Lon- 
don, (see his 3d vol. p. 314,) and not a moment sooner. 

It will not be overlooked either, that the diplomatic in- 
structions to the peace-makers gradually declined from a 
high tone of demand, to the simple command — Makepeace 
at all events. Peace was made ; and nothino- else was 
made, during the two years that preceded it, but distress, 
calamity, and debt, excepting that there was proof enouo-h 
made, that Americans can fight, when they are properly 
called on to engage in that business. The matter of En- 
glish impressment remains just where it was, when the na- 
tional government was instituted, excepting only, that it may 
be somewhat the worse for the war. 

The concerns of this world are too insignificant, in the 
view of any rational man, to be intentionally misrepresented, 
when all his connexion with them is soon to end. If any 
injustice has been done to Mr. Madison in these remarks, it 
is not intended. He was Mr. Jefferson's friend and associ- 
ate, in their joint views of federalism. If, in defending the 
fame of men as honest, as wise, and patriotic, as either 
Mr. Madison, or Mr. Jefferson, will hereafter be considered 
to have been, some painful truths must be asserted, it is the 
necessity of the case, and not the gratification of any un- 
worthy feeling, that calls for them. The people of this 
country are deeply interested to know what sort of public 
agents and servants, in high places, they have had, that 
they may make their own comparisons, and judge correctly 
of present and of future ones, as they successively arise. 



292 FAMILIAR LETTERS 



LETTER LXVIII. 

January 27, 1834. 

The convention was in session from the 15th of Decem- 
ber, 1814, to the 5th of January following. It sat with 
closed doors, and no information was given, by any of its 
members, while sitting, of the measures which were dis- 
cussed. This secrecy was construed to mean, most treason- 
able designs, and all the friends of the administration were 
industrious to have the matter so understood. To the 
opponents of the administration, who knew the men there 
assembled, and knew also, that they could listen to no 
counsels, nor propose, nor adopt any measures inconsistent 
with duty, self-respect, and sober wisdom, the secrecy was 
in no wise alarming, but, on the contrary, satisfying and 
consolatory. 

The only measure, which the legislatures of Massachu- 
setts and Connecticut thought it necessary immediately to 
adopt, on receiving the report of the convention, was to 
send commissioners to Washington. Harrison G. Otis, 
Thomas H. Perkins, and William Sullivan were sent from 
Massachusetts; Nathaniel Terry and Calvin Goddard from 
Connecticut. The nature of their duties and, in effect, the 
whole mischief of the Hartford Convention may be truly 
understood by this extract from the commission : 

" To make earnest and respectful application to the gov- 
" ernment of the United States, requesting their consent to 
" some arrangement whereby the state of Massachusetts, 
" separately, or in concert with neighbouring states, may be 
** enabled to assume the defence of their territories against 
" the enemy ; and that to this end a reasonable portion of 
" the taxes, collected within said states, may be paid into the 
" respective treasuries thereof, and appropriated to the pay- 
" ment of the balance due to the said states and to the 
" future defence of the same ; the amount so paid into the 
" treasuries to be credited, and the disbursements so made 
" to be charged to the United States." The commissioners 
were further required, "to consult with and to solicit the 
** assistance and co-operation of the senators and representa- 
" tives of this Commonwealth in the Congress of the United 
" States." 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 293 

This commision was dated the 31st of January, 1815. 
The commissioners had just arrived at Washington about the 
middle of February, when the news of peace was received 
at that place. The joy was universal and unalloyed ; and 
if greater among any one class than another, it was so 
among administration men, who saw before them not only 
peace, but the prospect of retaining their power. 

In proof of the propriety of the measures adopted by New 
England, and of the desperate condition in which the ad- 
ministration found itself, it should be added, that a bill had 
been introduced, at the session of the existing Congress, to 
authorize the several states to take measures to defend — . 
themselves. This was the principle object of the Hartford 
Convention. As the conscription had been defeated, there 
is little doubt, that such authority would have been given to 
the states, if the war had continued. .,-' 

So general and heartfelt was the joy at being at peace 
again, that celebrations were had in all the cities, in which 
both sexes, all ages, and all parties united with the strongest 
enthusiasm. There were splendid processions, bonfires, and 
illuminations, as though the independence of the country 
had been a second time achieved. 

There was too universal and too sincere a joy, on the 
restoration of peace, to allow of comment on Mr. Madison's 
self-congratulatory address to Congress, announcing the 
treaty, concluded at Ghent on the 24th of December, 1814, 
by Albert Gallatin, James A. Bayard, John Q,. Adams, 
Henry Clay, and Jonathan Russell, on the part of the United 
States, and Lord Gambier, Henry Gouldburn, and William 
Adams, on the part of England. 

On this occasion Mr. Madison said, among other things, 

" I lay before Congress the treaty, &c. ; while performing 
" this act, I congratulate you and our constituents upon an 
" event which is highly honorable to the nation, and ter- 
" minates, with peculiar felicity, a campaign signalized with 
" the most brilliant successes. 

" The late war, although reluctantly declared by Con- 
" gress, had become a necessary resort, to assert the rights 
" and independence of the nation. It has been waged with 
" a success, which is the natural result of the tcisdom of the 
" legislative counsels, of the patriotism of the people, of the 
" public spirit of the militia, and of the valor of the military 
25* 



294 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" and naval forces of the country. Peace, at all times a 
" blessing, is peculiarly welcome, therefore,, at a period 
" when the causes of the icar have ceased to operate, 
" when the government has demonstrated the efficiency 
" of its powers of (j;/^ defence, and when the nation can 
" review its conduct without regret and without reproach." 

It would not be difficult to make a version of this congrat- 
ulatory message, partaking, at the same time, of the serious 
and the ludicrous. But the high esteem and respect, in 
which Mr. Madison is held by most of his countrymen, are a 
very sufficient reason for not doing it. In truth, the main 
object of these pages (as has been more than once acknowl- 
edged) is to weigh the worth of Mr. Jefferson's evidence 
against a numerous body of his fellow citizens, a purpose not 
to be effected without investigating his own worth and the 
value of his services. No such motive is felt towards Mr- 
Madison, who has not appeared as a calumniator of his fel- 
low citizens, except in a single instance. How Mr. Madison 
could have conceiv.ed the American public would credit that 
purchased renegado, John Henry ; and what Mr. Madison 
saw in that man's disclosures, which warranted him to pro- 
claim the existence of crimes, which, if real, would have 
deserved a halter, we leave to Mr. Madison to explain. He 
included in his comprehensive denunciation many men as 
honorable, as wise, and as patriotic as any discerning and 
impartial historian will consider him to have been. With 
this exception, we know not, that Mr. Madison departed from 
the dignity implied in being the President of a whole peo- 
ple, by stooping to traduce and vilify a portion of them. 
Mr. Jefferson stands in a very different light in this sort of 
odious offence. He not only descended to the lowest calum- 
nies in his life time, but provided for the republication of 
them when, he knew, that he could not be called to account. 

If Mr. Madison had not been so intimately associated 
with all Mr. Jefferson's public policy, as to identify his own 
therewith, the present might not be a proper occasion for 
even adverting to the talents and integrity of Mr. Madison, 
as a statesman. We should have left this gentleman to be 
dealt with in the tribunal of history. Nor is it now expedi- 
ent to do more, than suggest the questions to which some 
future historian may think it his duty to furnish the proper 
answers. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 295 

1. Why did Mr. Madison, after having been among the 
ablest of the able men who framed the federal constitution ; 
after having been the associate of Jay and Ilamilton in com- 
mending it to public favor ; and after faithfully advocating 
its adoption by the Convention of Virginia, become the lead- 
er of opposition to the administration of that very system 
under Washington 1 

2. Why did Mr. Madison frame and present his famous 
resolutions in January 1794, based on Mr. Jefferson's com- 
mercial report, designed to hamper the commerce of this 
country with one nation, and to restrict it to a disadvan- 
tageous intercourse with another ? 

3. Did, or did not, Mr. Madison, under the seductive and 
persuasive intiuences of Mr. Jefferson, desire to see this 
country depart from neutrality, and engage in the wars of 
Europe on the side of the French republic ? 

4. Did Mr. Madison know and approve of the investiga- 
tion, instituted by Giles, Monroe, and Venables, into the 
official conduct of his former associate, Ilamilton ? 

5. Did Mr. Madison know and approve of his friend Jef- 
ferson's patronage of Jacobin clubs ; and of his nullifying 
doctrines expressed in the Virginia and Kentucky resolu- 
tions of 1798? 

6. Was Mr. Madison the friend and counsellor of Thomas 
Jefferson, (when Secretary of State from March, 1801, to 
March, 1809,) and did he approve of all that Mr. Jefferson 
did as President in these eight years ? Did he advise to the 
exercise of executive power, to convert the government into 
an exclusive party machinery; — to diminish the judicial 
power; — to substitute gun boats for a navy ; — to the pur- 
chase of Louisiana'? Was fear of or favor to Napoleon, 
among the motives ? — to the gift of two millions to Napo- 
leon ; — to the course of restrictions on commerce, and to 
its annihilation by embargo; — and to the tyranny of the 
enforcing law ? 

7. Why did Mr. Madison plunge this country into war, 
when he knew it to be wholly unprepared for an appeal to 
arms ? 

8. Why did he refuse an armistice, when the cost and 
calamities of war could have been thereby prevented ? 

9. Why did he persevere in the war after the pacification 
in Europe of 1814 ? was it to settle, by war, the question of 



296 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

impressment? What did Mr. Madison, or Mr. Jefferson 
really care for seamen, ships, and commerce ? 

Such and many similar questions some future historian 
will discuss, to show the value of Mr. Madison's integrity 
and talents, as a public man. But he will also consider the 
close intimacy of this gentleman with Thomas Jefferson ; 
he will not overlook the peculiarly disturbed state of the 
civilized world at this time ; nor how difficult it is to 
govern in a country, where the press is free, and where 
there are exasperated parties. The historian will heed also 
how diseased the perceptions of great men may be, 
when they are ambitious and subjected to the dominion of 
party ; nor will he, if deserving the trust which he assumes, 
forget that the station of a popular ruler is exceedingly 
arduous at all times, and that he needs especially that 
charity which few public men, or any others, have not 
needed. 

The future historian will turn with pleasure to those 
parts of Mr. Madison's character, which all virtuous and 
intelligent Americans ought to respect him for ; amongst 
others, for his services in framing and commending the 
constitution ; for his conduct as chief magistrate, after the 
affairs of Europe took that turn which enabled him to 
escape from the toils in which Jefferson had entwined him ; 
for his independence and good sense in establishing a na- 
tional bank.* He will honor Mr. Madison for having re- 

* The charter of the first Bank of the United States had expired 
before the war began. The embarrassments of the war are supposed 
to have been greatly increased by the want of such an institution. 
All the state banks in the Union (except those of New England) were 
compelled to suspend specie payments. This was an unavoidable 
consequence of the war. It is supposed, that Mr. Madison was in- 
structed by the experience of these times, that a national bank is 
indispensable in our country. His approbation of a bank entitles him 
to respectful consideration, because it was given against the well 
known opinion of Mr. Jefferson, and perhaps, against the opinion of a 
majority of citizens of his native state, to whom he was about to re- 
turn to spend the remainder of his days. The following anecdote may 
show what the state of the country was at this time : A person car- 
ried to a bank in Pennsylvania some bills which that bank had issued, 
and demanded gold or silver for them. He was answered, that the 
bank did not pay gold or silver. " Give me then bills of the United 
" States Bank." " There are none." " Then give me bills on any 
" bank in New England." " We have none of these." " Pay me 
" then in the best counterfeit bills you have." 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 297 

tired with dignity from his high station, and for having 
maintained that dignity in retirement ; exhibiting an hon- 
orable and exemplary virtue, as a private citizen throughout 
a prolonged life. 

The citizens of the present day, and all who are to be 
citizens while the republic continues, have a serious inter- 
est in the public character and conduct of the two first 
and two next Presidents. So recently after their ministry, 
and while one of them is still living, and while so many of 
both parties are still living, who are little likely to have 
changed their views, a fair and impartial judgment of these 
eminent men may be unattainable. But, if the materials 
for judging are not to be furnished to those who have be- 
come citizens, since these excitements have gone by, they 
must pass away themselves, before the time for impartial 
judgment may have come. How are such citizens to know, 
(what it most concerns them to know,) the origin and char- 
acter of public policy, and the merits and faults of former 
agents? The constitution, be it remembered, is no more 
than a collection of rules, to be expounded by practice in 
the exigencies of a nation. The constitution of England 
is not like ours, ivritten ; but is found in a long series of 
political events and usages. If our citizens are not to 
know what has been the practical exposition of their con- 
stitution, in former times, they cannot know the soundness, 
or unsoundness of the current one. It is not too early to 
inquire what good or evil was done in the days of Wash- 
ington and Adams ; and what good or evil was done in the 
days of Jefferson and Madison, if one has any interest to 
know what good or evil is going on at the present day. 

If any one who reads these pages is disposed to think 
them the product of party favoritism, he need not and will 
not rely on them. But let him look to the public docu- 
ments which have been cited. Let him look to facts 
which are open to every man's view, and judge for himself. 
The writer has no jjoint to carry, but to show Thomas 
Jefferson as he really was ; and, fortunately, every proof 
that is needed has been furnished either by Mr. Jefferson's 
confidential associates, or by his own pen. In showing 
Thomas Jefferson as he was, it is believed that an abun- 
dance of indisputable facts have been stated to show, who 
and what they were whom he spent fifty years in calumni- 



298 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

ATiNG, to carry his points. There are yet other facts to 
state of the same tendency, in their proper place. 

The time is not afar off, when the American people will 
rid themselves of Mr. Jefferson's " heresies." They will 
understand his faults, his follies, and pretensions. They 
will estimate the worth of his assertions, made even from 
his own ashes. Self-sculptured, he stands forth, as calum- 
niator, in a bold relief, vmknown before of any man. He 
may be likened to the manager of a theatrical company, who 
has played in every variety of comedy and tragedy ; and 
who at the close of the season, and when the curtain has 
dropped for the last time, re-appears and invites the whole 
audience to come behind the scenes, to see for themselves 
by what trumperif they have been beguiled of their money ; 
and for what sort of kings, heroes, and patriots they have 
thundered applause, or shed tears of sympathy. 

Mr. Jefferson's Religion. 

Mr. Jefferson demands the admiration of the world. He 
ranks himself with Washington ; with the benefactors of 
mankind. It is true, that he is not responsible to men for 
his religious opinions. But if he has taken on himself to dis- 
avow that religion on which believers found their hopes of 
the future ; and which the wise and virtuous regard as the 
very bond of society and the best security for human happi- 
ness, he has essentially impaired the force of his demand. 
Considering Mr. Jefferson as an individual, it is of no more 
importance to inquire what his religion was, than what his 
friend Thomas Paine's was. But as he is still held up as an 
example, it is proper, that a Christian community should 
know what sort of a Christian he was. The following ex- 
tracts will settle that matter. They might be multiplied, 
but it is painful to transcribe them : 

In a letter to Mr. Adams, January 11th, 1817, (vol. iv. 
p. 300,) he says : " The result of your fifty or sixty years 
" of religious reading in the four words, ' be just and good,' 
" is that in which all our inquiries must end ; as the riddles 
" of all the priesthood end in four more ; ' ubi panis, ibi deus.' 
" (My living is my religion.) What all agree in is probably 
" right ; what no two agree in is probably wrong. One 
" lately inquired of me, whether he might consider as au- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 299 

" thentic the change in my religion, much spoken of in 
" some circles. Now this supposed, that they knew what 
" had been my religion before, taking for it the words of 
" their priests, whom I certainly never made the confidants 
" of my creed. My answer was : ' Say nothing of my 
" religion. It is known to God and myself alone. Its evi- 
" dence before the world is to be sought in my life ; if that 
" has been honest and dutiful, to society, the religion 
" which has regulated it cannot be a bad one,' " 

It is with some reluctance, that the following extract is 
made from a letter of Jefferson to William Short, dated Au- 
gust 4th, 18:20, (vol. iv. p. 327.) 

" That Jesus might conscientiously believe himself in- 
spired from above is very possible. The whole religion 
of the Jews, inculcated on him from his infancy, was 
founded in the belief of divine inspiration. The fumes of 
the most disordered imaginations were recorded in their 
religious code, as special communications of the Deity ; 
and as it could not but happen, that, in the course of ages, 
events would now and then turn up, to which some of 
these vague rhapsodies might be accommodated by the 
aid of allegories, figures, types, and other tricks upon 
words, they have not only preserved their credit with the 
Jews of all subsequent times, but are the foundation of 
much of the religions of those, who have schismatized from 
them. Elevated by the enthusiasm of a warm and pure 
heart, conscious of the high strains of an eloquence, which 
had not been taught him, he might readily mistake the 
coruscations of his own fine genius for the inspirations 
of a higher order. This belief carried, therefore, no 
more personal imputation, than the belief of Socrates, that 
himself was under the care and admonitions of a guardian 
Demon. And ho7v many of our wisest men still believe in 
the reality of these inspirations, ichile perfectly sane on 
all other subjects. Excusing, therefore, on these consid- 
erations, those passages in the gospels, which seem to 
bear marks of weakness in Jesus, ascribing to him what 
alone is consistent with the great and pure character 
of which the same writings furnish proof; and to their 
proper authors their own trivialities and imbecilities, 
1 think myself authorized to conclude the purity and 
distinction of his character, in opposition to the impostures 



300 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

" which those authors would fix upon him." (Mr. Jefferson 
was about 77, when this letter was written ; and his mind 
seems to have been as sound then as it had ever been. We 
should not have adverted to Mr. Jefferson's religious opin- 
ions, if he had not been held up as a Christian ; and had 
not deliberately published, that Washington was an infidel.) 



LETTER LXIX. 

February 3, 1834. 

On Mr. Madison's retirement, Mr. Monroe (whose name 
should ever be associated with impressment and conscrip- 
tion) was the Jeffersonian candidate for President. The 
peace of Europe, our own peace, the return of prosperity, and 
the inexpressible relief from non-intercourse, embargo, and 
war, had made the federalists very indifferent as to Mr. 
Madison's successor. They had little to fear from him, and 
nothing to hope. Mr. Monroe met with little opposition at 
his first election, and with one opposing vote only at the 
second. He was of course a Jeffersonian President, and 
adhered to his party in all distributions of favors. He had 
no opportunity to adopt a mischievous policy, nor probably 
any desire to do it. His useful merit consisted in governing 
but little, and in leaving people to manage for themselves : 
a merit which belonged to neither of his predecessors. 

It is a remarkable fact, that the most peaceable, tranquil, 
and prosperous eight years, which the country has expe- 
rienced since the beginning of this century, was during the 
administration of this gentleman. Whether this arose from 
his positive, or negative qualities, or from the fact, that fede- 
ralists never make opposition, for opposition's sake, and care 
not who governs, if they are governed well, it is not under- 
taken to decide. 

If Mr. Monroe's talents and usefulness are to be meas- 
ured by the number of his elections and appointments, he 
was, undoubtedly, the greatest man that has ever appeared 
in the United States. There are a sort of middling-men, 
who are not objects of envy, nor are they so inferior as to 
pass unnoticed. They are always ready for any oflice, and 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 301 

equally fit for any. Some persons have supposed, that Mr. 
Monroe was at the head of this class. He served, honora- 
bly, some years in the revolutionary war. lie seems to have 
been esteemed in his native state. (He was born in Viririnia 
in 1758.) He was frequently in the legislature, and gov- 
ernor on two different elections ; and member of the old 
Congress. He was of the convention in 1787, and senator 
for some years. He was acting secretary at war, and secre- 
tary of state. He had four missions to Europe, and divers 
other appointments in the course of his life ; and lastly 
President of the United States. 

He was not a mercenary man, for he left public employ- 
ment, with slender means for future subsistence. Congress 
was supposed to have failed in showing proper respect and 
consideration for a man, who had been so long in public 
service ; and who, doubtless, was an honest man, whether 
he was right, or wrong in his views. He labored a long 
time with Congress, after he left the presidency, to get some 
accounts settled, in which he claimed to be a creditor ; but 
without much success. It is probable, that the wicked fac- 
tion of federalists would have taken pleasure in seeing Mr. 
Monroe made comfortable in his declining years, even at the 
public expense. 

Mr. Monroe was nearly six feet in stature, well formed, 
light complexion, blue eyes. His countenance had no indi- 
cations of superior intellect. He was a respectable looking 
man of that order called common. He was a very laborious 
and industrious man ; and may have compensated in some 
degree by diligence, for deficiencies in ability. He was 
the third Ex-President who died on the 4th of July. He 
died in New York in 1831, at the age of 73. 

Mr. J. Q,. Adams went to Russia in the summer of 1809, 
as minister by Jefferson's appointment. He remained there 
until his appointment in April 1813, to be a negotiator of 
peace at Ghent. After the peace was made, he was appoint- 
ed minister to England in February 1815, and went thither, 
and remained, until he returned to be Secretary of State 
under Mr. Monroe in March 1817. He continued in this 
office during Mr. Monroe's eight years, and became a candi- 
date for the Presidency, and was elected by the House of 
Representatives in Feb. 1825, there being no choice by the 
Electors. While he was Secretary, General Jackson carried 
26 



302 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

on the Seminole war, which occasioned some sharp diplo- 
macy with Spain. It was in this war, that General Jackson 
hung a couple of English subjects (Arbuthnot and Ambris- 
ter), a most extraordinary proceeding, to which some persons 
have given a most opprobrious appellation. Mr. Adams is 
understood to have approved of the General's conduct in this 
war. It had not- Mr. Clay's approbation, who made some 
memorable speeches in the House of Representatives on this 
subject. On the eve of the Presidential election, ''October, 
1828, )^Mr. Adams published a new edition of those charges 
against his fellow citizens in New England, which he had 
confidentially communicated to Mr. Jefferson about twenty 
years before. This led to a correspondence between Mr. 
Adams and some surviving federalists, in which he was re- 
quested to furnish his proofs. This he declined to do. 
This correspondence was published in a pamphlet. Mr. 
Adams was a candidate at the next election, but the reign 
of Andrew Jackson began on the 4th of March, 1829, and 
still continues. There can be no lower degradation for the 
American people, unless they are to see Mr. Van Buren, or 
Mr. Amos Kendall on the Presidential throne. 



LETTER LXX. 

February 5, 1834. 

There are many citizens in the United States who have 
come to manhood since this century began, and who sin- 
cerely believe, that the Federalists were an unprincipled and 
odious faction. They have derived this belief from vague 
traditions, or perhaps from such speculations as are found 
in Mr. Jefferson's volumes. If the day for vindicating fede- 
ralists has not come, they may safely trust their fame to the 
tribunal of posterity, and may have no fear there, in asking 
judgment, whether they, or Mr. Jefferson, are entitled to 
respect and gratitude. To aid in producing a just and 
righteous judgment will be the purpose of the residue of 
these pages ; and to this end facts must be stated, which no 
one, who pretends to know anything of the history of this 
country, can deny. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 303 

There were intelligent and honest men who hazarded 
their lives in the field, or councils, or in both, to free this 
country from the monarchy and tyranny of Great Britain. 
A large proportion of these men united to form for thirteen 
free, sovereign, and independent states, an elective, national 
republican government. The powers of this government 
were carefully limited and defined ; and all powers not ex- 
pressly, nor by necessary implication delegated, were reserv- 
ed to the states, or to the people. The members of the 
convention, who deliberately framed this system of govern- 
ment, with very few exceptions, united with other eminent 
citizens in recommending it to the people of the states. 
Most of these members were in the state conventions, where 
the constitution was discussed ; and by their efforts in these 
conventions, and by appealing to the good sense of the peo- 
ple through the press, and by all other proper means to which 
they could resort, they obtained, against powerful opposition, 
the acceptance of this constitution ; and thus formed the 
national union. The men, who thus resisted English mon- 
archy and tyranny, and who thus formed this republican and 
national union, were federalists. 

The President of the convention (which framed this 
constitution) must have been well informed, by the discus- 
sions which he heard, of the true meaning and practical 
application of every sentence and phrase in that instrument. 
He was the first President of the United States, selected to 
execute the powers which that instrument conferred. The 
Senate and House of Representatives were composed of 
men, many of whom had been zealous patriots throughout 
the revolutionary struggle, and most of whom had been 
members of the national, or state conventions ; or who were 
otherwise informed of the true meaning and intent of the 
constitution. The first Vice President was a man who had 
devoted himself to the cause of the revolution, and who may 
be said to have stood second to no one in efforts, as a civil- 
ian, to free the country from foreign dominion, and to 
enable it to govern itself, as a republic. The President, the 
Vice President, and a large majority of both branches of 
Congress were federalists. 

This new form of government was organized. All the 
various powers delegated by the constitution were defined 
by wise laws, and carried into effect. The whole country 



304 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

arose, almost miraculously, from a state of confusion, des- 
pondency, idleness, and inmiinent peril, to one of peace, 
confidence, industry, security, and unexampled prosperity. 
The wreck and ruin, which the revolutionary struggle 
brought on, both of private and public credit, disappeared ; 
and all the benefits, which those who led the country through 
the revolution had desired, or imagined, were fully realized. 
The people of the United States, in their new and flourish- 
ing republic, took their place among the nations of the 
earth. This was the achievement of fedeuai.ists. 

In the first twelve years of the national administration, 
the wars of Europe hazarded the peace of the United States. 
The aggressions of the belligerents, the insolent and seduc- 
tive character of French enthusiasm, secret combinations, 
and claims for gratitude (to revolutionary France) called 
for all the firmness, wisdom, and personal influence of 
Washington ; and for the best exertions of his political 
associates, to save the United States from the loss of all the 
benefits, which had been acquired by previous toils and 
sacrifices. Compensation for wrongs, was amicably made 
by one of the belligerents, and a treaty highly beneficial 
and honorable was negotiated and ratified. With another, 
peace and compensation were sought, and insolently denied; 
all connexion by treaty was annulled ; the attitude of war 
was assumed ; and then the rights of the country were im- 
mediately recognised, even by fraudulent and unprincipled 
France. The prosperity of the country, and the benefits of 
enriching neutrality were secured, amidst all the desolating 
conflicts of Europe. This was the work of federalists. 

How, then, should it have happened, that the very men, 
who hazarded all that was dear to them, to prepare their 
country for republican freedom ; who triumphantly suc- 
ceeded in their eflforts, and who blessed the nation with the 
best form of government which human wisdom could devise, 
and raised their fellow-citizens to security, honor, and pros- 
perity, unexampled in the history of the world, should have 
been suddenly converted into monarchists ; and into ene- 
mies and destroyers of their own monuments of glory ! A 
rational motive must be found for such a supposed change. 
It must be a motive founded in the perversions to which the 
human mind is liable ; a\id that perversion must arise from 
interest ; and interest must be found in the hope of acquiring 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 305 

some good for one's self, or in inflicting some evil on others. 
What good could the founders of a republican union promise 
themselves, so soon after its foundation, in destroying it, 
and in erecting a monarchy, even if such a measure were 
possible ; or even if it were a change to be had by merely 
willing it ? Then, what evil to others could they have medi- 
tated, which would not have fallen equally on themselves ? 
Usurpation was impracticable. A perversion of legislative 
and executive power, to accomplish such designs, involves 
the absurdity, that the great body of citizens were ripe for 
such a change. 

The true cause of the odium, attached to the name of 
Federalist, is to be found in the natural and malignant feel- 
ings of opponents. At the head of this opposition was Mr. 
Jefferson. He desired the overthrow of federalists, that he 
and his party might reign. The means were obvious ; they 
were such as he and his associates may have thought honest 
and right. There is little doubt, that he thought of federal- 
ists as he spoke and wrote ; and as little, that he thought 
it honest and right, through the press and by the exertion 
of his own personal influence, to lead the mass of citizens 
to distrust, to fear, and to hate federalists. He well knew 
the means of doing this. He appealed to the prejudices 
and delusions of those, whom he was pleased to call the 
PEOPLE ; he told them of burthens which they never felt ; of 
usurpations and misapplication of power, which had no basis 
but in his own imagination. He associated himself with the 
lowest order of popular deceivers. He triumphed and be- 
came President, and officially confirmed all that he had 
done, as an individual. He applied the constitutional power, 
vested in him, to establish the dominion of party, under 
which the United States have been struggling ever since. 
The effect of his exerci.se of power, on the welfare and 
morals of the people, is shown in the present condition of 
the United States. 

Mr. Jefferson, in enumerating his own merits, claims the 
gratitude of his countrymen, for his excellent achievement 
in "making head" against federalism, and in finally de- 
stroying its dominion. In all this Mr. Jefferson was sincere 
and honest ; and died in the belief, that he was a great and 
good patriot, in having made the monarchical founders of 
the national union, the enemies of France, and the friends 
26* 



306 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

of England (as he viewed them) odious to a majority of his 
fellow-citizens. Most of this majority were little competent 
to judge, whether Mr. Jefferson was credible in his male- 
dictions, or not. Less of their number were competent to 
judge, whether the measures of federalists were adapted to 
promote the honor and happiness of the nation, or not. It 
was satisfactory to this majority, that the great and good 
Mr. Jefferson said they were not, and that the authors of 
them were traitors and monarchists. 

So fell federalism ; not from its want of talent, integrity, 
or patriotism ; not for its perversion of power ; but as the 
Spartan band fell at Thermopylae beneath a mound of 
arrows, so fell federalism beneath a mound of calumnies 
and slanders, of which Thomas Jefferson was the maker, or 
patron. The name became so odious, that it was abandoned. 
It ought ever to have been the most honorable, that any 
citizen could wear. Mr. Jefferson thought otherwise ; and 
doomed all federalists to struggle in the ranks of opposition 
under whatsoever name they could assume. 

^'Federalist " meant no more than attachment to the nation- 
al union, in contradistinction to those who were opposed to it. 
Like whig and tory, democrat and jacobin, it signified the 
principles and actions of a political class. In this relation, 
federalism ever meant this, and this only, a pure and right- 
eous administration of national and state governments, in 
strict conformity to the established constitutions. So feder- 
alism will be considered in history, and as such will be 
honored by future generations. 

No exemption from human frailty is claimed for federal- 
ists. They were a political party. Mr. Jefferson and his 
associates compelled them to be such party. They may, or 
may not, be thought to have acted prudently in some re- 
spects ; and especially, in passing the alien and sedition 
laws. They thought, that the acts of those, whom Mr. Jef- 
ferson befriended and patronized, endangered the safety of 
the country, and forced these measures upon them. It is 
believed, that they were right. Whether they were so, or 
not, in these measures, were they an exclusive, vindictive 
party '. Did they turn any man out of office merely for 
political opinions ? Did they make it an indispensable 
qualification for office, that a candidate should have vowed 
allegiance to them and hostility to their adversaries ? Did 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 307 

they combine postmasters, revenue officers, clerks, printers, 
and every grade of diplomatic and executive agents, in one 
solid body, to uphold them, I'ight or wrong ? These were 
not the acts o( federalists. 

The perversions and misrule of party power under the 
two Presidents, Jefferson and Madison, called forth the 
patriotic exertions of federalists. Some were in Congress, 
some in state legislatures ; and, sometimes, a federalist was 
in the chief executive station, in some of the states. Many, 
in private life, could not be tame and silent spectators of the 
ruinous measures, which these two Presidents recommended, 
or adopted. What these federalists did, as opponents of 
Jeffersonism, is no less to their honor and credit, than their 
efforts to establish a government, which these two Presidents, 
under the guidance of party zeal, did all but annihilate. 

It remains to say something of the individuals, who did 
themselves equal honor in founding and sustaining the re- 
public ; and in opposing the perverse measures of Jefferson 
and Madison. To these individuals we are indebted, that 
there is still such an institution as the national republic of 
the United States. 



LETTER LXXI. 

February 10, 1834. 

The writer of these sketches well knew all the men in 
Massachusetts, who were engaged in public life, during the 
administrations of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison. He has 
heard all of them express their opinions on the state of the 
country, in those days, in public and in private. With 
some of them he was intimately associated, and knew their 
thoughts on all subjects of political character, as certainly 
as thoughts can be known, where there is unreserved con- 
fidence, and a common interest on the same subject. He 
never heard, from any one of these men, any opinion hos- 
tile to the national constitution, or the union of the states ; 
but from all of them, a most unqualified and zealous devo- 
tion to the preservation of both. He has heard, from all of 
them, the most decided disapprobation of the public policy 



308 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

of which they Avere opponents. They were, one and all, 
from interest, duty, and principle, constitutional 7-epttblicans. 
Yet, they were called monarchists, anglomen, disorganizers, 
and traitors, because they warned their countrymen of the 
errors and follies of national rulers. 

When Thomas Jefferson first became President, Caleb 
Strong was Governor of Massachusetts. He was born in 
Northampton in 1744 ; educated at Harvard University ; by 
profession a lawyer ; and was actively engaged in the first 
scenes of the revolution. As early as 1775, when he was 
only 31 years of age, he was a member of the committee of 
public safety. He was in puplic service during the whole 
of revolutionary times ; a member of the convention which 
framed the federal constitution, and of that which adopted 
it in his native state. He was senator in Congress in 
Washington's time ; governor of Massachusetts from 1800 
to 1807, and again elected in 1812, and continued in that 
office during the war He refused to give up the militia 
called for at the beginning of the war, because, in his 
opinion, the call was not warranted by the constitution. In 
this opinion, he was sustained by that of the Supreme 
Judicial Court. Governor Strong was a tall man, of mode- 
rate fulness, of rather long visage, dark complexion, and 
blue eyes. He wore his hair loose, combed over his forehead, 
and slightly powdered. He had nothing of the polish of 
cities in his demeanor, but a gentle complaisance and kind- 
ness. He was a man of strong mind, calm, cool judgment, 
and of purest character throughout his life. Perhaps no 
man in the United States could have been so unlike a 
monarchist and a traitor as Caleb Strong. 

His successor, John Brooks, was born at Medford in 
1752. By profession, a physician, though not favored with 
a liberal education. He engaged very early in the revolu- 
tionary war, and acquired celebrity ; and was much distin- 
guished at the capture of Burgoyne. He attracted the 
notice and enjoyed the confidence and friendship of Wash- 
ington. He was often a member of the legislature, and 
was adjutant general under Governor Strong, in Mr. Madi- 
son's war. Without high pretensions to intellectual dis- 
tinction, he was a man of practical wisdom, sound judgment, 
and of pure and elevated mind. No man was more es- 
teemed and respected than John Brooks. He was of mid- 



[ 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 309 

die stature, well formed, and of soldierly dignity of manner. 
Mr. Jefferson does not mention John Brooks bv name, as 
one of the " worthless and disaffected," but he was of the 
denounced class of citizens. 

Christopher Gore is specially named as one of the an- 
glomen and traitors. He was born in Boston in 1758, and 
educated at Cambridge, and became an eminent lawyer. He 
was one of the convention that adopted the constitution, in 
which he took an active and honorable part. He was 
the first attorney of the United States, for the Massachusetts 
district, under the new constitution. In 179G, he was ap- 
pointed a commissioner to settle the claims for British 
spoliations, under Jay's treaty. He was eight years in 
England in this employment. On his return, so acceptable 
had been the performance of his duties in that station, that 
the most respectable persons united in a festival to do him 
honor ; and a more sincere and cordial testimonial of re- 
spect and esteem was never given to any man. He was in 
the Senate of Massachusetts for two or three years after his 
return. One of the ablest papers that appeared on the 
orders in council and the decrees of France, and on the 
manner in which these had been treated by the national 
government, was drawn up by him, in the form of a report 
on a memorial of citizens to the legislature. There are 
many other public documents from his pen. In 1809 he 
was chosen Governor. His speeches, in that office, are to 
be considered in relation to Mr. Jefferson's commentaries 
on Governor Gore's political tendencies. In 1814 Mr. 
Gore was senator in Congress from Massachusetts, where he 
remained about three years, and then withdrew from all 
public employment. Mr. Gore was rather tall, and, in mid- 
dle age, of full person and erect, but began to bend forward 
at an earlier age than common. He was bald on the whole 
upper surface of his head, at an unusually early period. 
His hair was tied behind and dressed with powder. His 
face was round and florid, his eyes black ; his manners 
courteous and amiable. His eloquence was dignified and 
impressive. In all his relations and deportment, he had 
the bearing of a polished and well-bred gentleman. With 
his intimates he was free and social, and had, and deserved 
to have, many affectionate friends. Mr. Gore was a man of 
very considerable wealth, portions of which he bestowed 



310 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



munificently by will to public institutions, and especially to 
Harvard University. One can readily see, why a man so 
circumstanced in the world, should desire that the Union 
and the national constitution should be preserved, and the 
latter righteously administered; and it is impossible to discern 
any motive which such a man could have, for desiring to 
introduce popular commotion and anarchy. But it is easily 
to be perceived, why Mr. Jefferson may have found it con- 
venient to make such an opponent odious. 

One of the eminent men whom Mr. Jefferson is particu- 
larly disposed to notice as a monarchist and angloman, 
(Mr. Jefferson's favorite name for those whom he considered 
to be of the English faction,) was George Cabot. This 
gentleman was born in Salem in 1752. Before he was 26 
years of age he was a member of the Provincial Congress 
of Massachusetts. In 1787 -8 he was a distinguished mem- 
ber of the state convention, on the federal constitution ; and 
for several years senator in Congress. The latter years of 
his life he was sometimes in the state legislature, and in 
the executive council. In the deplorable distress, caused 
by Madison's war, Mr. Cabot consented to be one of the 
Hartford Convention, in which assembly he was President. 
Mr. Jefferson had the strongest inducement to depreciate 
Mr. Cabot, for no man saw more clearly the motives of Mr. 
Jefferson and the consequences of his policy. All the party 
malignity, which Mr. Jefferson felt for Hamilton, was ex- 
tended to all Hamilton's political friends, and to none more 
than to Mr. Cabot and Mr. Ames, who accorded entirely with 
Hamilton, in his views of national policy. It is no easy 
task to describe George Cabot in a manner worthy of him, 
and adapted to make known by words, what he was, as a 
statesman, a man of information, a patriot, a citizen, and a 
gentleman. His early days were passed in the usual semi- 
naries ; and he was, for some time, at Cambridge University, 
but left it in his boyhood, for the purpose of qualifying him- 
self for a life of business. He became his own teacher, and 
for the high elevation, to which he afterwards attained, he 
was indebted to his own cultivation of his extraordinary 
powers of mind. The state of the country and the deep 
concern, which he took in its prosperity, directed his atten- 
tion to the great public interests. One who had the best 
opportunities to know him, (Dr. Kirkland,) thus describes 






ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 311 

his qualities : " His mind was at once comprehensive and 
" discriminating; full, yet accurate. He was sagacious and 
" acute in disentangling involved and difficult subjects ; 
" knowing how to separate appearances from realities ; to 
" distinguish the probable, the true, the practical. The 
" materials, that constituted his intellectual store, lay in his 
" mind in methodical arrangement, ready to be applied to 
" their proper uses, for argument, persuasion, colloquial 
" communication, or the conduct of life." 

On national subjects, which engaged the public attention 
in the first fifteen years of this century, no man thought 
more, or more profoundly and justly, than Mr. Cabot. He 
was listened to with the highest respect and confidence by 
the most eminent men of the time ; and by no one more 
than his intimate friend, Mr. Ames. No one left Mr. Cabot's 
presence without being made wiser, if he was capable of 
being instructed. Not only were the treasures of his mind 
frankly and freely poured forth, but with a clearness and 
elegance of expression, and in tones so captivating, that no 
parallel case can be mentioned. 

His life was as pure and blameless, as his intellectual 
powers were transcendent. He had manifested, in all his 
public relations, an ardent zeal for the constitution and the 
union ; all his hopes of welfare and personal consideration 
rested on the republican experiment, that his country was 
making. No one desired more sincerely, that the experi- 
ment should be successful, and, consequently, no one felt 
more keenly the defeat which JefTersonism threatened to 
effect. Of that system of policy he was seriously and con- 
scientiously an opponent. In proportion to his influence 
was the measure of calumny. 

Mr. Cabot is most affectionately and respectfully remem- 
bered, by all who had the honor and good fortune to enjoy 
his friendship. But they who knew him are passing away ; 
the remnant is daily diminishing ; and it is sorrowful to feel 
assured, that so little will be known in distant times of one, 
whose counsels, while living, were held in the highest vene- 
ration. It is to be regretted, that there is nothing preserved 
of so rich and prolific a mind, but in the memory of those, 
who are also soon to pass away. 

Mr. Cabot was a tall man, well formed, of courteous and 
elegant manners, and refined aspect ; his complexion light, 



312 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

his eyes blue ; his mode of speaking in colloquial inter- 
course serious and earnest, but not vehement. The dress 
of iiis thoughts was clear, strong, and appropriate, and every 
sentence apparently incapable of amendment. 

It was such a man, that Mr. Jeiferson would send down 
to posterity, as a monarchist, disorganizer, and enemy of 
his country.* 

To these four names, (Strong, Brooks, Gore, and Cabot,) 
might be added hundreds of others, no longer among the 
living,) comprising lawyers, merchants, farmers, and me- 
chanics, as well known in their respective spheres as these 
four were ; all of whom thought, on national subjects, as 
these four thought ; and all of whom were conscientiously 
opponents of Jefferson ism ; and all of whom were, conse- 
quently, monarchists, disorganizers, and traitors. These 
men, one and all, regarded with abhorrence the reign of 
French jacobinism in Europe, and were indignant in seeing 
Mr. Jetferson's efforts to transplant, or to engraft it on 
American stock. 

These four have not been selected in disregard of others, 
not less respectable and worthy, but because three of these 
four began with the American revolution, and labored 
through it ; because one of them was a framer of the na- 
tional constitution ; all four of them strenuous advocates 
for its adoption ; three of them officers under it ; and all of 
them in high offices under the state constitution. The elec- 
tion of such men, by those who knew them well, is some 
evidence of their intelligence and virtues.! 

Such men Thomas Jefferson charges with plots and com- 
binations to subvert the institutions which they had estab- 
lished ; and at the very time when their purposes were in 
successful experiment, under their own direction. On the 

* It is well remembered to have been one of Mr. Cabot's opinions, 
that this country must, sooner or later, submit (as in ancient republics) 
to the termination of freedom, through popular delusion. He thought 
the natural action of this spirit was most terrible in small communities ; 
and that the prolonged safety of this country would be found, iii the 
diffusion of its inhabitants over a wide surface. He was, therefore, 
for continuing the unity of the American people, and avoiding the 
evils of party feehng, when limited to narrow spaces and to small 
numbers. 

t Caleb Strong died in 1820; George Cabot in 1823; John Brooks 
in 1825 ; Christopher Gore in 1827. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 313 

continued success of this experiment depended their fame, 
their property, their personal welfare, the prosperity and 
happiness of their friends and kindred. 

What, then, was Thomas Jefferson's motive ? Was he 
fraudulent and base ? Probably not. He was under the 
delusion which beguiles a vain, wrong-headed, selfish party 
man. It is such men, who have overturned all former re- 
publics. They substitute themselves and their party for 
the country, the people, the laws, and the constitution ; and 
are, at last, forced into despotism, whether they so intended, 
or not. 



LETTER LXXII. 

February 16, 1834. 

There are three persons whom Mr. Jefferson is pleased 
to distinguish, with peculiar emphasis, in his writings, viz. 
Timothy Pickering, John Lowell, and Stephen Higginson. 
Mr. Pickering was in the public service from the com- 
mencement of the revolution, almost to the close of his loner 
life, in various and in honorable stations. He proved him- 
self to be an able man in all of them, and an officer of in- 
corruptible integrity. This gentleman has but recently 
deceased ; and there are so many now living who knew him 
well, and who speak of him with the highest respect, that it 
must be left to those, who are so much better informed, than 
the writer of these sketches can assume to be, to do him 
justice, if they think Mr. Jefferson's remarks worth noticing. 
It must strike them as ludicrous, that a man, who might be 
selected as a model of republican simplicity and directness, 
should be publicly charged with plotting, (in conjunction 
with a London merchant of singular retiredness of^ deport- 
ment, in all things but his mercantile concerns,) to subject 
his own country to British dominion. Mr. Jefferson may 
have known how such afHiirs are managed ; but it is be- 
lieved, that the British ministry and federalists were equally 
stl-angers to such modes of managing public interests. The 
absurdity of supposing, that the British could carry any de- 
signs which they may have had by corrupt means, or that 
any distinguished members of the federal party imagined 
27 



314 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

they could accomplish any British purpose through such 
means, is too glaring to have found admission to any but a 
distempered mind. The case was much otherwise with the 
French. The miseries to which they subjected other na- 
tions were the consequences of fnanagement, no less than of 
force. 

There is a very remarkable record in Mr. Jefferson's 4th 
volume, page 514, under date of December 25, 1800, con- 
cerning the two other persons before named, — John Lowell 
(sen.) and Stephen Higginson. Though there is no pleas- 
ure in copying Mr. Jefferson, this record cannot be under- 
stood without taking the whole of it together. 

" Colonel Hichborn tells me, what Colonel Monroe had hc- 
^^ fore told me of, as coining from Hichborn. He was giving 
" me the characters of persons in Massachusetts. Speaking 
" of Lowell, he said he was in the beginning of the revolu- 
" tion a timid whig, but as soon as he found we were likely 
" to prevail, he became a great office hunter. And in the 
" very moment of speaking of Lowell, he stopped : Says he, 
" I will give you a piece of information, which I do not ven- 
" tm^e to speak of to others. There was a Mr. Hale in Mas- 
" sachusetts, a reputable, worthy man, who becoming a little 
" embarrassed in his affairs, I aided him, which made him 
" very friendly to me. He went to Canada on some 
" business. The Governor there took great notice of 
" him. On his return, he took occasion to mention to 
" me, that he was authorized by the Governor of Canada to 
" give from three to five thousand guineas, each, to himself, 
" and some others, not to do anything to the injury of their 
" country, hut to befriend a good connexion between England 
" and it. Hichborn said he would think of it, and asked 
" Hale to come and dine with him to-morrow. After din- 
" ner, he drew Hale fully out. He told him he had his 
" doubts, but particularly, that he should not like to be 
" alone in such a business. On that. Hale named to him 
" four others who were to be engaged, two of whom, said 
" Hichborn, are now dead and two living. Hichborn, 
" when he had got all he wanted out of Hale, declined in a 
" friendly way. But he observed those four men, from that 
" moment, to espouse the interests of England on every 
" point and on every occasion. Though he did not name 
" the men to me, yet as speaking of Lowell was what 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTEKS. 315 

" brought into his head to tell me this anecdote, / concluded 
" he was one. From other circu/nstanc^s respecting Stephen 
" Higginson, of ichom he spoke, I conjectured him to be the 
"other living one." 

" December 26th. In another conversation, I mentioned 
" to Colonel Hichborn, that, though he had not named 
"names, I had strongly suspected Higginson to be one of 
"Hale's men. He smiled and said, if 1 had stronuly sus- 
"pected any man wrongfully, on his information, he would 
" undeceive me : that there were no persons he thought 
" more strongly to be suspected himself, than Higginson and 
" Lowell. / considered him as saying they loere the men. 
" Higginson is employed in an important business about our 
" navy." 

A personal friend of the late Judge Lowell, and of the 
late Mr. Higginson, has favored the writer with the follow- 
ing remarks on the foregoing extracts : 

' This most extraordinary accusation was entered in Mr. 

* Jefferson's diary in 1800, twenty-five years after the sup- 

* posed and imputed transactions and crimes ; it was care- 
' fully concealed by Mr. Jefferson during his whole life, and 
' left to be published to the world half a century after the 
' supposed transaction ; and when, from Mr. Jefferson's un- 
' common longevity, it was absolutely certain, that there 
' could not be a single surviving witness to an accusation so 
' solemn, and, if unfounded, atrocious. It was upon its f^ice 
' a case, in which a man indulged his passions, to gratify 
' his own personal hatred towards men, who differed from 
' him in political opinions. This should not be forgotten. 
' As to the degree of unfairness, and we may add baseness, 
' of leaving a posthumous charge on record against men of 
' as high and honorable character, as any in New England, 
' and who enjoyed always the entire confidence of the in- 
' telligent and astute people of the state of Massachusetts, 
' every man can form an opinion for himself When history 
' can be so much corrupted and defiled, that a man, con- 
' suiting his own passions and governed solely by his personal 

* prejudices, shall be permitted to state, as facts, such idle 

* and unfounded surmises, after the demise of his friends 

* and coadjutors, surely there is no security for the truth of 
' history, or for the character of individuals employed in the 

* great concerns of a nation. 



316 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

' But, to analyze this most licentious, and, in its form and 
circumstances, most improbable story : " A Mr. Hale," 
without a christian name, without any description of resi- 
dence to enable the accused parties to identify him, and 
utterly unknown to any man now living, applies to Colonel 
Hichborn, and admitting that he had himself received a 
bribe of three thousand guineas from the Governor of 
Canada, proposes to bribe the Colonel himself. This, he 
says, was owing to great favors, he (Colonel Hichborn) 
had rendered to Hale. The Colonel, after this base offer, 
invites Hale to his table, and learns from him, that four 
other persons had received bribes, and, therefore, the 
Colonel need feel no delicacy in following the example. 
The Colonel's own sense of honor and patriotism forbade 
him to accept the bribe. He had not the courage and 
hardihood to announce to Jefferson the names of the 
guilty parties, even in 1800, twenty years after the sup- 
posed events. Jefferson presses him to name the parties 
in vain, and therefore he suggests to the Colonel who they 
were. The Colonel replies in an oracular style, and Jef- 
ferson " concludes " and "conjectures," that Lowell and 
Higginson were the men intended by Hale. Thus he 
commits to posterity, on the credit of Colonel Hichborn, 
and on his own conjectures, (which Hichborn, the most 
fearless and dauntless of men, did not venture to disclose,) 
a charge against Judge Lowell and Stephen Higginson, 
amounting to treason. To be sure, both of these men 
afterwards enjoyed, during their long lives, the confidence 
of all who knew them. To be sure, they were among the 
most active revolutionary patriots. They were, moreover, 
the personal friends and coadjutors of Jefferson himself, as 
can be proved by their correspondence ; still this did not 
hinder Mr. Jefferson, at the end of fifty years, a half cen- 
tury after the supposed events, from committing this atro- 
cious charge against his co-patriots and personal friends to 
paper, to be published after his decease. 

' Mr. Jefferson was a lawyer and a very sagacious man. 
He was perfectly capable of weighing evidence. How, 
then, could the following queries have escaped him 1 And 
why should he not have put them to Colonel Hichborn, if 
his only object was the truth ? 

' Colonel Hichborn, that Mr. Hale, whoever he might be. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 317 

' avowed himself to you to be a purchased traitor. He had 
' received, he told you, his three thousand guineas for the 
' sale of his principles. He was, by our law, subject to death 
' as a traitor. You were his confidential friend. Why did 
' not you denounce him at once to the committee of safety, 
' or to the Attorney General of the state, or to the wrand 
' jury ? You were guilty of misprision of treason. This is 
' not all ; you ought to have denounced, openlv and frankly, 
' Higginson and Lowell. They enjoyed the highest confi- 
' dence in our republic. They were not only members of 
' the legislature of Massachusetts, but were l)oth of them 
' unanimously elected members of the revolutionary Con- 
' gress, and one or the other of them continued in these 
' important stations till the peace. Why did you not alarm 
' the republic ? You hated, with as deep and cordial a 
' sentiment as a man could do, Stephen Higginson ; but 
' you admired, courted, and praised John Lowell till his 
' death. How then can I reconcile your story with your 
' patriotism ? How, in the bitter times which followed the 
' revolutionary war, can I reconcile your silence with truth 1 
' Did you not go out with Stephen Higginson as your second 
' in command, to suppress the insurrection of 178C, and 
' did you ever lisp a word against him till now? Sir, I doubt 
' your story. 

' Such would have been the reflections of an honest mind. 
' Such were not those of Mr. Jefferson.' 

Such are the views of one, who knew Judge Lowell and 
Stephen Higginson much better, than the writer could have 
known them. Setting aside the improbable occurrence, that 
the Governor of Canada would first corrupt an obscure in- 
dividual, and then trust him with fifteen or twenty thousand 
guineas to corrupt others ; it is quite incredible, that two 
such men, as Lowell and Higginson were ever known to be, 
would trust their fame to " a Mr. Hale." It is very uncer- 
tain what Colonel Hichborn told to Mr. Jefferson, with the 
preface, that he would tell no one but him, though he had 
before told the same thing to Monroe, who had told it to 
Jefferson. It is still more uncertain what was told, for the 
reason that Mr. Jefferson says it was ; because it is proved, 
that Mr. Jefferson had, either such a memory as he says 
Washington had, (always bad and growing worse,) or that 
he could record " false facts." 
27* 



318 



FAMILIAR LETTERS 



There is a striking absurdity in Mr. Jefferson's own state- 
ment. These " three to five thousand guineas each " were to 
be given to men, as a bribe, for what ? " Not to do anything 
" to the injury of their own country, but to befriend a good 
connexion betiveen England and it." It is much to be re- 
gretted, that " a Mr. Hale " did not bribe Mr. Jefferson 
with the whole amount, if he could have been thereby in- 
duced to act in conformity to the Governor's proposal. It 
was his duty " to befriend a good connexion with Eno-land," 
as Washington did, as well as with all other nations. He 
pursued, on all occasions, precisely the opposite course. 
And as to doing " nothing to the injury of his own country ; " 
surely, no man above, or below its surface, (not even ex- 
cepting Andrew Jackson,) has done it so much injury. 

But, it is feared, that this calumny has been treated with 
much more seriousness than it deserves. It would not have 
been noticed at all, but for the purpose of presenting Mr. 
Jefferson in one more aspect of his own choosing ; certainly 
not to vindicate either of the gentlemen so accused. They 
need no vindication, but that which the record carries in 
itself. 

John Lowell was an eminent lawyer, and in full practice 
at the commencement of the revolution. He continued his 
practice during the war, as counsel for merchants and others, 
who were zealous on the patriot side. He was a member 
of the old Congress ; and on the adoption of the federal 
constitution was appointed District Judge in Massachusetts 
by President Washington ; in which office he continued, 
until appointed Chief Justice of the Circuit Court in 1801 
by Mr. Adams. He remained in that office, until Mr. Jef- 
ferson caused that court to be abolished in 1802, in which 
year Judge Lowell died, at the age of about 59. 

Judge Lowell was one of the most amiable, pure, and 
honorable men, that ever lived. He was a true constitution- 
al federalist, and expressed his opinions as such. But his 
judicial character and his own sense of propriety prevented 
him from engaging in political controversies. Mr. Jefferson 
could not have made a more unfortunate selection of a man 
to receive " three to five thousand " British guineas, than 
Judge Lowell. 

Stephen Hisginson was an eminent merchant ; an inti- 
mate friend of George Cabot ; and was undoubtedly charge- 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 319 

able with the twofold sin of being a stanch Washingtonian 
federalist, and a most sincere and inflexible opponent of the 
Gallic-American policy of Mr. Jefferson. He was navy 
agent of the United States, from the first beginning of the 
navy, until he was dismissed to accommodate one of Mr. 
Jefferson's partisans. Mr. Higginson was a man of strong, 
clear mind, of simple, serious manners, and very competent 
to understand the character and tendency of Mr. Jefferson's 
measures. He was a man of habitual reserve and few words, 
except among his friendly associates. To any one who 
knew Mr. Higginson there can be nothing more palpably 
absurd, than to suppose him a purchased man, in a scheme 
of intrigue and treason. Mr. Jefferson has been very 
unlucky in his selection of men, in this quarter, for political 
knaves. 

Colonel Hichborn was a lawyer ; and was of the Jefferson 
party ; he was a man of very varied fortune. He well knew 
Judge Lowell and Mr. Higginson, and both of them well 
knew him. And though Colonel Hichborn may not have 
felt much restraint in discussing the characters of political 
adversaries, (apparently a favorite vocation of Mr. Jefferson,) 
it is very doubtful, from Mr. Jefferson's own record, whether 
Colonel Hichborn intended to convey the opinions which 
Mr. Jefferson intended to make credible, by his adoption, or, 
more properly, his creation of them. 



LETTER LXXMI. 

February 25, 1834. 

The number of distinguished men, who appeared at the 
close of the last and the beginning of this century, is so 
great, that it is a delicate matter to decide who among them 
should not be mentioned, as all of them cannot be. It may 
be safest not to add to the number of those who have been 
mentioned ; but there are some, who held so conspicuous a 
rank, that they should not be passed over ; especially, as in 
mentioning them, a deserved homage will be rendered to the 
human mind. In these instances, there are seen two men, 
both of whom are entitled to be called great, both eminent 



320 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

lawyers ; the one rich in the knowledge of other men's 
thoughts, as well as of his own ; the other rich in knowledge 
for which he was little indebted to other minds, and most of 
which he created in his own. These were Parsons and 
Deleter. 

Thcopliilus Parsons, the son of a clergyman, was born in 
Byfield, Mass., February, 1750. He was educated- at Cam- 
bridge, and is said to have been an uncommonly hard student 
while there. He kept school at Portland, and was admitted 
to the bar at that place. When Portland was burnt, he 
went to his father's at Byfield. The learned Judge Trow- 
bridge, who lived in Cambridge, retired to the same town 
during the war, and carried with him his law library for 
amusement. As professional books were difficult to be had, 
Mr. Parsons availed himself of the Judge's books and con- 
versation ; and studied so intently as to impair his health, 
and to make the continuance of his life exceedingly preca- 
rious for many years. He became an invalid, very thin in 
person, and an afflicted hypochondriac. The extreme care 
which he manifested in after life, in guarding his person, 
may have arisen from these early solicitudes. After the war, 
he opened an office in Newburyport, and soon became emi- 
nent. He afterwards removed to Boston. In 1806, on the 
resignation of Chief Justice Dana, he was appointed to the 
vacated station, and held it to the close of his life, October 
30th, 1813, when he was 63 years of age. 

He was the most learned lawyer of his time ; and was 
called the giant of the law. He comprised in his professional 
attainments, among other things, a full and accurate knowl- 
edge of the common law, civil, maritime, and ecclesiastical 
law, the law-merchant, the statute and common law of his 
own country, and the law of nations. He retained all the 
learning which he thought it necessary to acquire, and, 
from the methodical order of his mind, all he knew was 
ever familiarly at his command. His speeches to juries and 
judges were neither eloquent nor elegant, in anything but 
pertinency and argument. They were never long, and he 
was among the few, who could discern when they have said 
enough for their purpose. His eloquence was earnestness, 
his manner easy, familiar, persuasive, and never vehement. 
It is not remembered, that he ever used a brief; his memory 
was his brief and the best one that a lawyer can use. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 321 

His presidency on the bench was an era in judicial ability, 
and in despatch of business. It would he assuming too much 
to pronounce on the character of his judgments. Very few 
of them have not been approved by the able minds, which 
have since been employed on the same subjects. Some of 
them have been especially respected for their explanatory 
and illustrative notice, of what may be distinguished as the 
common law of the state. There may be different opinions 
as to the manner in which he performed his official duties. 
It satisfied him, that a case was rightly disposed of, wheth- 
er the counsel and parties were, or were not satisfied 
with the despatchfulness with which it was done. If l.e 
thought a case needed no argument, he was not disposed to 
hear any. However much the patience of judges and 
jurors may sometimes be exercised, litigants win, or lose 
cases with much more complacency, if the matter has been 
well " spoken to." It is a trait in the character of Yankees, 
that they like a close warfare of words, especially when they 
pay money to have it; and they like to have their wranglers 
for hire " hold on." But the Chief Justice, by intuition, or 
some process analogous to his familiar use of algebraic 
deduction, saw what the end must be ; and was impatient of 
the slow process by which inferior minds arrived at it. It 
is doubtful, whether it is best for a judge, or for the commu- 
nity, that he should know much more and discern much 
more rapidly, than any or all around him, when engaged in 
the administration of justice. Whatever may be thought of 
such matters. Chief Justice Parsons was one of the most 
learned and able Judges that ever appeared in any court. 

His political life was not distinguished. He is said to 
have had a distaste to political controversy. It w'as not con- 
genial to the character of his mind. He was of the conven- 
tion which framed the Massachusetts constitution, and of 
that which adopted the national one. In both these assem- 
blies he held a high rank, and was the inferior of no man 
whom he met therein. On extraordinary occasions, he 
sometimes accepted a seat in the state legislature. He was 
an original and thorough federalist ; and, consequently, 
understood and condemned Mr. Jefferson's theories and 
practice. As Mr. Jefferson was curious and diligent, as to 
friends and foes, and loved to discuss character, he ranked 
Judge Parsons among the enemies of the country. No 



322 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

doubt this gentleman kept very bad company, in Mr. Jef- 
ferson's opinion ; for he was the intimate associate of such 
men as Cabot, Lowell, Higginson, and Ames; and (which 
must have been conclusive with Mr. Jeiferson) he was 
appointed Chief Justice by Caleb Strong. 

As a scholar and a man of science, (especially in Greek 
and mathematics,) there is unquestionable evidence, from the 
most competent judges, of his very high attainments. These 
studies were his amusements ; but he also read and delighted 
in the current literature of the day, and, it is said, that he 
was as well read in novels and romances, as in the law. 

Mr. Parsons was one of the most unremitting and inces- 
sant students that ever lived. When not called off by 
business, his daily habit was to sit and study, from twelve to 
fifteen hours a day, all his life ; and this without exercise or 
relaxation. Great lawyer as he was, he did not study law 
from the love of it. He left a great mass of manuscripts, 
comprising classical literature, a Greek grammar, profession- 
al essays, and on mathematics and astronomy ; the two latter 
subjects and natural philosophy being his favorite studies. 
On such subjects he had collected a very considerable libra- 
ry ; and had also an extensive and valuable collection of 
optical and philosophical instruments. It is said, that he 
published nothing, and did not intend anything that he 
wrote for publication. Nothing was left in condition for the 
press ; so that nothing remains of this great mind, but his 
official judgments. 

It is grateful to know that such a powerful mind, as Judge 
Parsons had, was applied, with all its force on the truths of 
Christian revelation. He is said to have examined this 
subject with the acute and discriminating ability, which 
marked all his intellectual action. He publicly professed 
his belief in Christianity, and closed his life in that belief 

He was a man of six feet in stature, of full person, but 
rather small lower limbs. It was not till he was about fifty, 
that his fulness of person occurred. His face was round 
and full, his complexion sallow, his eyes large and blue. 
He affected no elegance of manner or dress ; in the latter 
he was indifferent, if not careless. He often wore a colored 
silk handkerchief around his neck and over his coat. He 
wore a brown tie wig, the hair coming down in front almost 
to his eyebrows ; and his own hair sometimes appearing 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 323 

from behind. He had a very keen, intent look when 
making, or listening to an argument, and this appeared to 
be the more so from his habit of drawing his chin towards 
his breast, and looking almost through his eyebrows. This 
position of his head was probably acquired by his sedentary 
habit of study. The expression of his tranquil face was 
amiable and pleasing. In his day, at the bar, there was 
often a keen and close encounter of wit and sarcasm ; 
seasoned a little, sometimes, with political excitement, and, 
sometimes, arising to passionate expression. But Mr. Par- 
sons did not lose himself on these occasions. 

He was naturally liable to passionate excitement. When 
he was about thirty years of age, he gave way to a very 
justifiable cause of violent anger. This happened in the 
presence of his wife, who was so much affected, as to faint. 
He then resolved, never in his life to give way to passion, 
and, it is said, he never did. It has been thought, that all 
men of very exalted intellect, by nature, are liable to violent 
passions. Certainly there are many such cases ; but there 
are also many cases of passionate persons, of very inferior 
minds. 

In private life and social intercourse, he was an amiable 
man, of very easy, familiar manner ; and was very gracious 
to his young brethren. He loved good stories and told 
them well ; was full of apt anecdote and pleasant wit, and 
was ready and sharp at repartee. He laughed heartily, but 
inwardly, and with his lips closed. 

This eminent man had something of a defect, not uncom- 
mon with " giant " minds. Though the ends which he 
desired to accomplish were such as ought to be accomplished, 
he thought inferior minds should be managed. The suspi- 
cion, that he was disposed to management, impaired his 
influence. Ingenuity in leading inferior minds to assent, 
where it is proper, that they should do so, is not an uncom- 
mon trait in men of superior intellect. It is a sort of hom- 
age, which such intellect pays to itself But contempt and 
management are not readily forgiven, even by the most in- 
ferior. All that is true in this respect of Mr. Parsons prob- 
ably came to no more than this ; that he was adroit in 
accomplishing commendable purposes, which is a merit ; 
and not that he managed to attain improper purposes, which 
is adding one vice to another. Enough, perhaps, has been 



324 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

quoted from Mr. Jefferson's writings to show what sort of a 
manager he was. 

The successor of Chief Justice Parsons was Samuel 
Sewall, of the ancient and distinguished family of that name. 
He was a native of Boston, but had resided for many years 
at Marblehead. He had been a member of Congress, and 
thirteen years on the bench, when appointed Chief Justice. 
He held this place but a few months. He died at Wiscasset, 
while on the circuit, instantly, and without any previous 
illness, June, 1814, at the age of 57. He is supposed to 
have had some disease of the heart. He was below middle 
stature, and of rather full person. His manners were those 
of a gentleman, amiable and courteous. He was a learned 
lawyer, and was highly esteemed and respected. If his 
judicial opinions had any defect, it was in the want of 
clearness and simplicity. 

Chief Justice Sewall was succeeded by Isaac Parker, 
a native of Boston. After admission to the bar, he removed 
to Castine, and thence to Portland. He was Marshal of the 
district, member of Congress, and was appointed associate 
Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in 1806, and soon 
after removed to Boston. Among the first acts under his 
new appointment, was to sit, as sole judge, in the remarka- 
ble trial of Thomas O. Selfridge, a member of the bar, for 
manslaughter. In this trial Gore and Dexter were counsel 
for the accused. In 1814 he was promoted to the office of 
Chief Justice, and continued in that station till July, 1830, 
when he died suddenly of paralysis, at the age of 63. 

Chief Justice Parker was not supposed to be a learned 
lawyer when he first took his seat on the bench ; but he 
proved to be one of the ablest judges that ever sat in this 
court. He was naturally disinclined to labor ; but he had 
a clear and powerful mind, and was capable of intense and 
rapid application. His learned and lucid judgments, pro- 
duced with wonderful facility, are the best evidence of his 
capacity. Whether his labors, or those of Chief Justice 
Parsons, in the same seat, were most useful to the Common- 
wealth, is a point, on which there may be difference of 
opinion. They were both eminently useful, but were, in 
many respects, very different men. They died at the same 
age, and probably Parker could not number as many hours 
of study, in his whole life, as Parsons could number days. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 325 

Chief Justice Parker was a man of middle stature, of full 
person and full f;ice, light, or red complexion, blue eyes, 
and very high forehead, and remarkably bald. His manners 
were very simple and without pretension to polish. He was 
very affable, amiable, and unpretending ; and a most com- 
panionable and agreeable associate, in private life. Perhaps 
no man excelled him in kind and friendly feelings. He 
used snuff immoderately ; it affected his voice in his latter 
years, and may have had some agency in producing his 
sudden and lamented death. For some years at the close 
of his life, he rose long before the dawn of day, and dressed, 
and took his walk of four or five miles before breakfast, 
whatever was the season, or the state of the weather. He 
certainly lived most usefully and honorably for the public, 
and ought, therefore, to be considered to have lived usefully 
for himself. He may not have thought so ; for, like most 
other men of his profession, however eminent, he had little 
to bequeath as the product of laborious life, but his honor- 
able fame. * 

Samuel Dcxtn- was a native of Boston, born in 17G1. 
He was (like John Jay) of Huguenot descent, t on the 
maternal side, and of English, on the paternal. His father 
was an eminent merchant, and a patron of science and 
literature. Mr. Dexter was educated at Harvard University, 
and left that seminary with high reputation. He engaged 
in the profession of the law, and rose rapidly in the public 
estimation. He became a member of the state legislature ; 
was sent to Congress, and distinguished himself honorably 
in both branches. Mr. John Adams appointed him secre- 

*The Chief Justice was a man of the simplest habits of life. He 
happened to have taken a servant, on the very day of an evening, 
when he was to receive a society of his professional- brethren. This 
servant had left a family in which it was the usage to announce 
visiters, a practice unknown in the Judge's house. The two first 
who came were asked at the door for their names, and amused 
with the Judge's new style, one of them answered, John Doe and 
Richard Roe. The servant threw open the door and announced, 
" Mr. John Doe, Mr. Richard Roe." The Chief Justice came for- 
ward with hi.5 usual good nature, and extending his hand said, 
" Gentlemen, I have read of you and heard of you all my life, but 
" I had despaired of making a personal acquaintance." He ordered 
his servant to forego his gentility in future. 

t See page 50. 

28 



326 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

tary of war, and then secretary of the treasury, which 
latter office he held, when Mr. Jefferson became President. 
He performed the duties of these two offices with great 
ability. When Jefferson came in, he withdrew from public 
employment and resumed his profession. He continued in 
this vocation to the close of his life, which event occurred, 
(from sudden disease of the throat) while on a visit to the 
interior of the state of New York, May 4th, 1816, when he 
was in his fifty-fifth year. 

It will be observed, that Mr. Dexter had filled the various 
places which have been mentioned, before he was forty 
years of age; and in a manner which pioved, that he well 
deserved all the confidence and honor, which had been 
offered and accepted. Associated with Mr. Adams, it 
would have been surprising, if Jefferson, Freneau, Bache, 
Duane, Callender, and other like guardians of the public 
welfare had not noticed him. They availed themselves 
of an unfortunate accident, to aid them in their patriotic 
purpose of demolishing federal character. In the new and 
unprepared state of the city of Washington to be the seat of 
government, a building was hired for the use of the secre- 
tary. The adjoining building took fire, in consequence of 
which the ofiice of the secretary, with many papers belong- 
ing to it, were burnt. It was an opportunity not to be lost 
by this company of public guardians. Accordingly, Mr. 
Dexter was charged with peculation, and with the wilful 
burning of his office, books, and papers, to conceal it. 

Notwithstanding Mr. Dexter's attention had been so 
much abstracted from his profession, he resumed his place 
at the bar, as though he had not been absent from it ; and 
was at once in full practice, in all the courts which he 
chose to attend. His professional reputation was sufficiently 
hio-h, to call him annually to the Supreme Cgurt at Wash- 
ino-ton, during the rest of his life. In this forum, he met, 
among others, William Pinkney, Robert G. Harper, Thomas 
Addis Emmet, who were glad of his aid as an associate ; 
and who knew what was necessary, when opposed to him. 
The course of the national administration occasioned many 
highly important litigations, in this tribunal. 

It is said, that Mr. Dexter had impaired his eye-sight by 
hard study, early in manhood. This, no doubt, was consid- 
ered a misfortune, but it may not have been ; for being 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 327 

disqualified, by this occurrence, to deal with the thoughts of 
others, he was compelled to find thoughts for himself. lie 
may thus have acquired a facility, in that very difficult 
exercise of the mind, voluntary thinldng. His manhood 
may be considered to have been one long process of medita- 
tion, reluctantly interrupted by business and sleep, lie had 
no relaxation, and knew nothing of what are called amuse- 
ments. He sat, and thought ; or more commonly paced his 
room ; or, at least, so it was said of hira. However this 
may have been, Mr. Dexter depended very little on books 
and less on his pen, in preparing, or delivering his elaborate 
arguments. He posessed himself of facts, and then resorted 
to his own contemplations to find the laic, when the partic- 
ular case did not turn on technical distinctions. 

Mr. Dexter rarely had a brief; and never larger than a 
quarter of a sheet of letter paper, and seldom took notes, 
unless to preserve the words of a witness, or the book and 
page of an authority. His common manner of speech was 
deliberate, and his thoughts were very clearly expressed ; 
and the effect was to command attention, whether of the 
judges or the jury ; but it was only the eloquence of argu- 
ment. In general, he stood still and erect, and used no 
gesticulation, excepting occasionally his right arm was ex- 
tended. But it was much otherwise when his case called 
for strong and impassioned expression, and when he was 
excited himself. He was capable of the strongest excite- 
ment, and sometimes rose to tremendous eloquence. Some 
instances are well remembered, where his own feelings were 
strongly interested, and then his mighty mind came forth 
in words, in tones, and manner, that can be best compre- 
hended by referring to that all-absorbing interest which is 
sometimes felt, in highly wrought scenes of the drama. Mr. 
Pinkney is said to have prepared his pathos. But these 
great efforts of Mr. Dexter coidd not have been prepared. 
They were the eloquence of the moment ; and may have 
been as unexpected to himself, as to his audience. Like 
Garrick, he may have been surprised by the unintended 
excelling of himself. 

It is not possible to point out his greatest argument. 
That which was considered to be one of the ablest he ever 
made was on the unconstitutionality of the embargo laws. 
This was delivered in the District Court of the United States. 



328 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

There was no reporter. The argument was lost except for 
the occasion. It is much to be regretted, that this exposition 
of constitutional law, from Mr. Dexter, has not been pre- 
served. It is believed, that no product of his mind, but official 
papers, professional arguments, and congressional speeches, 
(from the hands of reporters,) has been preserved, excepting 
his Eulogy on Ames. Mr. Dexter was a deep thinker ; and 
theology was one of the subjects which engaged his attention. 
He was a Christian ; and it was intimated, in his lifetime, 
that he intended a publication of his views ; and had begun 
to write. But since his decease, it is understood, that he 
left nothing sufficiently prepared for the press. 

He took an earnest part in the suppression of intemper- 
ance, and was one of the first, if not the first distinguished 
man, who thought it practicable. He was the first president 
of the first temperance society formed in Massachusetts, 
about the year 1813.* He had consented to deliver the first 
address, but was unable to do so, in consequence of being 
detained at Washington. 

Mr. Dexter was nearly six feet in stature, of well propor- 
tioned, muscular frame. His hair was black, loose, unpow- 
dered, and worn rather long ; it came lightly over his high, 
expansive forehead. His face was long, his complexion 
dark, his eyes large and light blue. There are men whose 
expression of face indicates, that they are mostly engaged 
with what is passing without them, while others show, that 
they are occupied with what is passing ivithin them. 
Mr. Dexter was of the latter description ; though he could 
observe keenly, when it was interesting to him to do so. 
His common and usual manner was a dignified and formal 
reserve, that of one who is conscious of intellectual superi- 
ority. His personal presence indicated, that he was not a 
man, with whom liberties could be taken, or to whom 
familiarity could be oflfered. Yet in private intercourse, 
and when he felt himself unrestrained, he was an agreeable 
and instructive associate ; but he did not take much interest 
in what is called " company," and spent but little time in 
that way. Instances, however, are remembered, in which 
he gave full scope to social sympathies. He was a parish- 

' This is supposed to have been the first Temperance Society ever 
formed. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 329 

ioner of the celebrated and lamented Buckminster, (who 
died June, 1812.) The distinguished men of the parish 
visited Mr. Buckminster on the evening of Sunday. (The 
same practice was observed in the time of his predecessor, 
Dr. Thacher, and of his predecessor, Dr. Cooper.) In 
these social interviews Mr. Dexter received, as well as 
imparted, pleasure. It is believed, that he was not of that 
class of men who need, or who desire intimacies ; but was 
of the privileged few, who can always be companions to 
themselves. Whether this course is, on the whole, the best, 
each one must judge for himself 

During Mr. Madison's war, Mr, Dexter separated from his 
federal friends ; a circumstance which they exceedingly 
regretted. It is not known, that the true causes of this 
separation have been explained. The separation contin- 
ued to the close of his life. 



LETTER LXXIV. 

March 9, 1834. 

There are yet among the living some men, whom Mr. 
Jefferson included in his general denunciation, and who 
held a conspicuous rank in the first fifteen years of this cen- 
tury. It would be a grateful pleasure to speak of them, as 
men and as citizens. This would lead to a long enumera- 
tion ; too long for the present purpose. It cannot be dis- 
respectful to others to mention some, who deserved well of 
their country in the greatest perils, and but little less 
serious than those experienced in the revolution. Party men 
they were, because none but party men could live in the 
days of Jefferson and Madison. But this they may say of 
themselves and their associates, and as the last act to be 
done on this side the grave, that they ever acted from purest 
motives ; that their country had no just cause to complain, 
that they did act, but, on the contrary, should be ever 
grateful to them for their resistance of ill-advised and dan- 
gerous measures. 

Harrison Gray Otis was too young to have taken a part 
in the revolution ; but not to bear arms, when the insurrec- 
28* 



330 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

tion of 1786-7 required the services of all good citizens. 
He was too young to have been a member of the convention, 
which adopted the constitution ; but in 1800 he was in 
Congress, an opponent of Jeffersonism ; and was among the 
embarrassed number, who had to choose between Jefferson 
and Burr. From that time to the close of Mr. Madison's 
war, Mr. Otis was constantly in Congress, or in one, or the 
other of the legislative branches of the state ; and for many 
years at the head of one, or the other. He was the orator 
of all popular assemblies ; the guide of popular opinion in 
all the trying scenes of commercial restrictions, embargo, 
and war. With a fine person and commanding eloquence, 
with a clear perception and patriotic purpose, he was the 
first among his equals, alike ready, at all times, with his 
pen and his tongue. What motive could this gentleman 
have had, to effect such purposes as Mr. Jefferson charged 
upon him and his associates ? Disunion 1 He and all ra- 
tional men knew then, as they now know, that the moment 
the Union is broken, discord, anarchy, civil war, and despot- 
ism must come. They knew then, as now, that a " northern 
confederacy " could be effected only by force ; and if to be 
effected even by consent, what hope of peace and prosperity 
could there be within its limits ; or security from the hostile 
dispositions of those beyond them ! It is hardly credible 
that even such men as Jefferson and Madison, deluded as 
they were, could have so underrated the intelligence of nor- 
thern men, as to have imputed to them such designs. If 
they knew, that those imputations were false and groundless, 
there is no apology for having made them, but this ; party, 
disorganizing, demoralizing, tyrannical party holds all 
means to be lawful, which can accomplish its purpose. 

There is one man, whose name does not appear in con- 
ventions, nor much in the legislative or popular assemblies, 
but who had, when in these, as at the bar, a fervent and 
commanding eloquence. But especially he had a powerful 
influence on public opinion, through the press. The dis- 
cussions of public measures, during these fifteen years, by 
John Lowell * were published without his name, in pamph- 
lets. It is improbable, that distant generations will know 
(if efforts to preserve civil liberty shall be worth their notice, 

* Son of Judge Lowell. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 331 

or if they are in condition to understand its worth,) how 
much they are indebted to Mr. Lowell. He fearlessly of>- 
posed, in masterly reasonings, the disastrous and unprinci- 
pled policy of these fifteen years. His style and manner 
were clear, cogent, and convincing. His works were uni- 
versally read, and were invaluable in correcting and en- 
lightening public opinion. His " Madison's War," one of 
the most elaborate of his works, was so independent of all 
personal consequences which might arise, (from the peiform- 
ance of what he held to be his duty, as a true patriotic citi- 
zen in developing the character of national administration,) 
that his friends were inclined to dissuade him from publish- 
ing. This country is under the greatest obligation to him 
for his manly perseverance. All the evils which he prophe- 
sied were realized, short of absolute despotism ; and that 
this was not is to be ascribed only to the better perceptions 
of the community of impending perils, in effecting which 
he labored with eminent success.* 

Josiah Quincy was in Congress, from 1805 to 1813, and 
therefore present at the creating of commercial restrictions, 
embargo, and war. He was a fearless and eloquent oppo- 
nent of all those measures ; and therein faithfully repre- 
sented the feelings, wishes, and sound judgment of his con- 
stituents. His speeches are among the best records of the 
character of the times. He drew up the admirable address 
of the minority of Congress. James A. Bayard, then in the 
Senate of the United States, from Delaware, examined and 
approved, with the serious responsibility which that state- 
ment of unquestionable truths involved. Mr. Quincy is still 
before the public, and it would not accord with his own per- 



* It is believed, that the following; pamplilets were written by Mr. 
Lowell, thouo;h none of them bear his name : 

1. Madison's War. 2. The Boston Rebel. 3. The Road to Peace, 
Commerce, Wealth, and Happiness. 4. An Appeal to the People on 
the Causes and Consequences of a ^Ya^ with Great Britain. 5. Per- 
petual War, the Policy of Mr. Madison. 6. Diplomatic Policy of Mr. 
Madison unveiled. 7. Analysis of the Correspondence between our 
Administration and Great Britain and France. 8. An Essay on the 
Rights and Duties of Nations relative to Fugitives from Justice, con- 
sidered with reference to the affair of the Chesapeake. These pro- 
ductions were republished in the several states, were applauded by 
all discerning and honest men, and obtained for their author distin- 
guished fame. 



332 FAMILIAK LETTERS 

ceptions, to speak of him but in allusion to historical events 
in former years.* 

Artemas Ward (now Chief Justice of the Common Pleas) 
was the worthy successor of Mr. Quincy. He was present 
at the trying scenes, which occurred in the latter time of 
the war, in the House of Representatives. The speeches of 
this gentleman were grateful to his constituents, as they 
showed him to be most diligent and faithful in maintaining 
their constitutional rights, and in resisting the dangerous 
encroachments of power. 

James Lloyd was a senator from Massachusetts in these 
days. He was a gentleman of liberal education, and an 
eminent merchant. He distinguished himself very honor- 
ably in the Senate, in many speeches ; comprising, not only 
the intelligence of a statesman, but a practical knowledge in 
commerce, which was much more rare in the assembly 
which he addressed. Mr. Lloyd demonstrated the folly of 
the embargo in the clearest manner. 

[It was intended to have described the eminent men, who 
were in Congress during the war, and to have shown what 

* Among the speeches preserved of Mr. Quincy, are the following : 
1806. On fortifying the ports and harbors of the United States. 

1808. On the first resolution of the committee of foreign relations. 
" On foreign relations. 

" On the resolution to raise 50,000 volunteers. 

1809. On the bill for holding an extra session of Congress. 

1810. On the resolution of Congress, approving the conduct of the 
Executive towards Francis J. Jackson, (British minister.) 

1811. On the bill to admit the territory of New Orleans, as a state, 
into the Union. 

1811. On the influence of place and patronage. 
" On the non-intercourse law. 

1812. On maritime protection. 

" On the pay of non-commissioned officers. 

" On the relief of merchants from penalties incurred on importa- 
tions of British goods. 

1813. On raising an additional military force. 

These speeches (among others) will attract the notice of some future 
historian, who desires to know the true character of the times. There 
were very able men, in these days, in both branches, who did their 
duty. Though the country is deeply indebted to Mr. Quincy, he owes 
one debt to it, which he is very able, and it is to be hoped, equally will- 
ing, to pay. He must have the materials on hand, for an accurate and 
just history of the eventful times, in which he was a public man. He 
is already known as a historian, and the time has already come in 
which he might put forth his knowledge of men and things. 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 5J33 

part they respectively took in the affairs of the country. Bnt 
many of them are still living, and this discussion may be 
left to a more distant day from these scenes, and to a better 
delineator.] 



LETTER LXXV. 

March 20, 1834. 

If, in attempting to show the dangers to which republics 
are liable, under the dominion of party rulers ; or if, in 
attempting to weigh the worth of Thomas Jejfcrson's evi- 
dence against a numerous class of his fellow-citizens, any 
malignant or unworthy feeling has been displayed, the writer 
is unconscious of it. Towards Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, 
and their political associates, he is influenced by no vindic- 
tive or unkind impulse. He readily admits, that the Jeffer- 
sonian party may have believed they were governed by good 
motives ; but then he insists, that, good as their motives 
may have been, their acts were dangerous to civil liberty, 
and the effect of them ruinous to the country. The people 
did not intend, when they established their government, nor 
can any citizen, who is worthy to live under it, desire, that 
all its powers and purposes should be perverted to the use 
and benefit of a few men, who are ingenious enough to 
obtain the control. 

It is well known from history, and from the very nature 
of man, that when such control is obtained, that is, when- 
ever rulers assume to have power for their own use and 
emolument, and not for the good of the nation, usurpation 
must follow. One usurpation introduces another. No usur- 
per (as in case of our " republican " friend Napoleon) com- 
putes from the original starting point, but always from the 
one last arrived at. Thomas Jefferson, and liis selected 
friends, prescribed to themselves the patriotic labor of de- 
molishing federalism and federalists ; then, the acquisition 
of power for themselves; then, the most effectual means of 
keeping it ; then, the most certain means of strengthening 
it, to the exclusive use of party ; and finally, the substitution 
of mere party will for the laws and the constitution it- 



334 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

self. * In all this " the people " were called on to rejoice 
and applaud. All was done in the name of the people and 
in the name of liberty. There is nothing new in all this. 
It is only the common course of usurpation, which naturally 
tends to self-defending despotism ; and ending in bloody 
tragedy, so often seen in the history of nations. Man is 
man's enemy; and the only creature of the earth, who is the 
enemy of his own species. He will ever be so, until refined 
by that morality which Mr. Jefferson did not promote, and 
chastened by that religion, which he attempted to discredit. 

Every rational man in the United States, of whatsoever 
party he now is, or may have been, must admit the abstract 
truth, that government, in a republic, is a guardianship in- 
stituted by the people, to prevent them from doing wrong to 
themselves and to each other ; and to secure the enjoyment 
of whatsoever good is allowed by the Creator to human life. 
Whether this guardianship has been well or ill conducted, 
at any time, does not depend on what the selected guardians 
are pleased to say of their own acts, but upon the good or 
evil, which they have done in the exercise of their trust. 

Thus, it does not depend on presidential messages, on 
congressional speeches, on the making of laws, on the ex- 
ecution of them, nor on the exercise of executive discretion, 
nor on the applause of venal presses, whether the trust has 
been righteously performed or not ; but on the effect pro- 
duced on those for whom that trust was undertaken. 

What GOOD can be done, when this public trust, in such a 
government as ours, is wisely and honestly executed? It 
can protect industry, property, and personal liberty. It can 
administer equal and exact justice to all men. It can prevent, 
or repel foreign aggression. It can keep peace at home. 
It can secure to every one the right to do, or not to do all 
things, consistently with the rules intended for the govern- 
ment of all. 

What EVIL can be done, when this trust is perversely and 
dishonestly executed ? It can corrupt the ignorant and the 
deceived. It can call into energetic action the very worst 



* It is well remembered, that one man, whose shoulders Mr. Madi- 
son adorned with epaulets, is reported to have said, that if he rould be 
permitted to use a guillotine in State Street, for a single hour, he 
would effectually silence opposition ! 



ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 335 

of human passions and cravings. It can liusli conscience. 
It can substitute the will of a faction for the law of the land. 
It can shackle industry, and stop the circulation of the life- 
blood of the social state. It can lay excessive burthens on 
the people, destroy life in domestic tumults, or waste the 
strength, the spirit, and the wealth of a nation in war. It 
can palsy the hand, and close the lips by terror. All this 
it can do, and do it in the name of the people, of liberty, and 
the constitution. 

It is not asked of those who are now alive, but of the 
posterity to which Mr. Jefferson appeals, which of these 
things were done in the days of Washington and Adams — 
which of them were done, in the days of Jefferson and 
Madison 1 

It is to be hoped, that the day is yet afar off, when there 
will be an American President, who will be insensible to the 
inquisition of history. Andrew Jackson may be an excep- 
tion, as he is a sort of liisus reipuhliccc, held by no rules or 
laws, and who honestly believes his sycophants, that he was 
" horn to command." A proposition, this, which he has 
spared no pains, and has halted at no legal, or constitutional 
obstacle to verify. With a head and heart not better than 
Thomas Jefferson had, but freed from the inconvenience of 
that gentleman's constitutional timidity, and familiar with the 
sword, he has disclosed the real purpose of the American 
people in fighting the battles of the revolution, and in estab- 
lishing a National Republic, viz. : That the will of 
Andrew Jackson shall be the law and only laav of 

THE republic ! 

Are the people of the United States so far gone in despot- 
ism, that they must submit ; or can they in any, and in 
what way, wrest their constitution, their personal freedom, 
their honorable fame, the last hope of civil liberty, from the 
grasp of usurpers ? They have a formidable adversary to 
contend with. There is the President, the Vice President, 
the cabinet proper, "the cabinet improper,"* a minority of 
the Senate, a majority of the House, (and such a majority!) 
the whole host of post-masters, mail-contractors, revenue 
officers, district attorneys and marshals, agents, sub-agents, 
clerks, and dependents ; in short, all who are in, by direct, 

* Webster's Speech at Worcester, October, 1832. 



336 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

or circuitous executive patronage. Then there are the daring 
and flagitious presses, that speak to millions, who hear no 
voice but that which they utter. To this well-entrenched 
and strongly fortified camp add the power, obtained by the 
forcible seizure of the whole of the revenues of the United 
States, to be applied in maintaining this terrible combination. 
But that which is astounding and ludicrous, at the same 
moment, is, that this army of patriots announce and maintain, 
that the people know, unoeustand, and approve of all their 
doings ! No doubt, these patriots are sincere and honest. 
No doubt, they believe, that this whole country, its people, 
its institutions, the products of the " sw'eat of the brow" do 
of right belong to them, because they have no other sense of 
right, than the will and power to command them. In a less 
enlightened state of the world than the- present, the only 
obstacle was the physical force to be encountered ; if this 
could be subdued, terror easily held in subjection a broken 
spirit. There are terrible examples of such truths in the 
forty-seven years, next preceding the establishment of Au- 
gustus Caesar on the ruins of the Roman republic. We 
have seen the same thing in these times, in the " republican 
Emperor." Man has not changed his nature in Americans. 
If he is here more intelligent, than those w'ho have been, his 
craving ambition has partaken of the progress of improve- 
ment. Its arts do not rely on force, but they are the more 
dangerous, since they are more adroit and cunning. 

Our republic will endure many years more, because our 
citizens will avail themselves of the right of suffrage, when 
they can be sufhciently awakened to impending perils. 
When this remedy fails to produce the necessary changes, 
it will only aid in transferring us to despotism. How is this 
country to escape the Jeffcrsonian vice of electing partisans ? 
No doubt every President must be elected by a party ; but 
if he prove himself to be a partisan in office, he is a tyrant 
at heart, and is no more worthy of the confidence of those, 
who voted for him, than of those, who voted against him. 

At this day, (March 20, 1834,) there is not the least doubt, 
that a large majority of the American people are disgusted 
and astonished by the usurpations of Andrew Jackson ; 
and by the dominion, which irresponsible individuals have 
obtained over his offiricd will. If this majority (who are 
sound constitiitionaiists) were as united in their remedy, as 



ON PUnLIC CHARACTERS. 



337 



they are in reprobating the wrong, the course to be pursued 
would be plain and easy. It is naturally to be expected, that 
in a republic so extensive as that of the United States, and 
in which there are eminent men, better known within the 
limits of their personal action, than they can be all over the 
Union, there will be decided preferences ; and such as may 
not be easily relincjuished. But may it not be expected, 
when the whole country is in peril, and struggling to escape 
from the grasp of despotism, that all minor considerations 
will be yielded ? May it not be expected from the eminent 
men, who may be considered as candidates, that they will 
prefer the security and happiness of their country to them- 
selves ! Such men, surely, will not permit disunion among 
themselves, to constitute successful strength in their com- 
mon adversary. The condition of the country seriously 
calls on such men to make some sacrifices. The constitu- 
tionalists, no doubt, would hold the concessions of honor- 
able ambition, on this occasion, as the highest proof of 
magnanimity. 

By such devotion to the true interests of the country 
among parties, and their preferred citizens, the American 
people may entertain the hope, that the suffrages of an 
abused and indignant community will unite, in some high- 
minded, virtuous, and trustworthy person, who may be able 
to bless this country with an administration like that of 
Washington. They can have but one requisition to make, 
as the condition of their suffrages, that he will put his veto 
to the reign of party, and will he the President of the 
United States. 

To the YOUNG MEN of the country, into whose hands these 
pages may chance to come, it may not be obtrusive to ofier 
a word of counsel. Youthful aspiration naturally looks to 
the offices of the republic ; and this is proper, when motives 
are pure, and intelligence competent. But if it be one's 
self only that is cared for, there are abundant proofs, that 
this is the last country on earth, in which elective office 
should be desired, and the very best, (when well governed,) 
in which to hold one's own office, and adhere to one's own 
place of business. One could easily make a long list of 
paupers, who were such from having sought and obtained 
high places. Patriots and their countrymen estimate public 
services very differently ; and if one labors for any other 
29 



338 FAMILIAR LETTERS 

reward than the consciousness of performing duties, he must 
contract with the grave to spare him the sense of hearing. 
Americans are munificent in eulogies of the departed. 
These do no evil but that of misrepresenting historical truth ; 
and nothing is hazarded in praising the dead, who are no 
longer aspirants for place and power. Such considerations 
absolve no man from the duties of a citizen. It is the first 
of political duties to be a consistent, intelligent, constitu- 
tional republican. If one has no desire for office, still it is 
his duty to hold up to rulers, that they will be justly but se- 
verely judged of. The more one studies the institutions of 
his country, state and national, and the more he compares 
them with those of any other countries, ancient or modern, 
the more will he be convinced, that they deserve his best 
exertions to preserve and perpetuate them. Every young 
man, who is worthy of living under such glorious institutions, 
should form and maintain opinions ; not such as spring up 
in the hot-bed of party excitement ; not such as begin and 
end, in getting this man in, and keeping that man out ; but 
his opinions should rise on the broad and firm basis of con- 
stitutional right. What is it, in fact, to nine hundred and 
ninety-nine men in every thousand, who is the Governor of 
a state, or the President of the United States, so that he is 
an able, virtuous, and conscientious man, and disdains the 
influence of corrupting party ? 

There is one solemn truth, which all young men, who wish 
to live in pure republican government, must keep in mind, 
viz. : That every thing, which the Creator has given for 
man's security and happiness, comes with an inseparable 
condition, that he shall bestow his care upon it, to keep it 
in a proper state to impart the benefit for which it was de- 
sic^ned. This truth is apparent to every one who considers 
his person, his heart, his mind, his worldly possessions. This 
truth is not less applicable to political government, (the very 
thing of all others most easily perverted,) with which all that 
can be called good is necessarily connected. The duty of 
preservation and proper use is given, by election, (but not 
for their exclusive use and benefit,) to rulers. Constituents 
are faithless to themselves, and must and will suffer the con- 
sequences of perfidy, if they permit rulers to separate them- 
selves, and set up an exclusive dominion in their oicn right. 

The continually besetting danger lies in the cupidity and 



ON PUBLIC CllAUACTERS. 339 

ambition of a class of men, who understand the art of sepa- 
rating mere numbers from intelligence and property. Tiiey 
do this by instilling into these numbers a belief, that they 
have a separate interest from all others in the community. 
This is a profitable field to cultivate, because it is manured 
with all the perversions of which human nature is capable. 
There never has been in the world any connnunity, in which 
it was so entirely false, that the members of it have separate 
and distinct interests. On the contrary, no community ever 
existed, in which the welfare of each one so entirely de- 
pended on the welfare of all. There can be nothing more 
false, flagitious, and wicked, than to inculcate that the rich 
and the poor have separate interests, as fellow-citizens. 
They must suffer and enjoy together, in measures which 
affect the whole of society. The most astute ingenuity 
cannot point out a case in which a man can use property, 
by laic, beneficially to himself, and injuriously to others. 
If he use property injuriously to others, against km, there 
is law enough to stop him. Suppose there were no men who 
were able to build rail-roads, undertake voyages, build houses, 
carry on manufacturing, &c. ; what would become of those 
who must be employed, or starve 1 The proportion between 
laborers and employment in this country is, and long must 
be such, that those who have labor to exchange for wages, 
must rather have the advantage, and to a most extraordinary 
degree, compared with any other country on the globe. That, 
which the young citizens owe it to themselves and to their 
country to do is, to examine rationally and dutifully into 
these popular delusions ; and not to permit interested, or 
ignorant partisans to defraud them of their republican in- 
heritance, by exciting one class of citizens against another. 
The preservation of the Union is implied in supporting, 
and preserving the constitution. The writer, readily ad- 
mitting to all men the same independence in matters of 
opinion, which he claims to exercise for himself, is sincerely 
convinced, that some of the best intended measures, now 
going on in the New England states, will do more towards 
breaking up the Union, than all that " anglomen, monarch- 
ists, and traitors" could have done, if all which Mr. Jefferson 
said of them were as true, as he wished to have it believed 
to be. Whatever philanthropists and Christians may say 
and feel, as to the abolition of slavery, and however sound 



;]40 FAMILIAR LETTERS ON PUBLIC CHARACTERS. 

ihey may be in their abstract notions, this is a subject in 
which those dwelling in non-slaveholding states have not 
the right to interfere, but are positively forbidden to do so, 
by the constitution and laws. AU-sutTicient as these diffi- 
culties may be to arrest one's progress, these reformers 
overlook the fact, that their measures can do no possible 
good, while they are sure to effect the most serious evil 
— evil, which will be felt by irritated reaction, on all the 
most precious interests of the East and the North. This 
policy, if pursued, will inevitably conclude in the separation 
of the Union ; and then an Andrew Jackson may be a bless- 

As to remedies for the afflictions and degradations, which 
our republic is now suffering, it is nearly three years before 
there can be any relief in the executive department. In this 
space of time the people must suffer and mourn. But in 
affliction there is wisdom ; for in affliction men consider. 
Already, the true principles of our institutions attract de- 
served attention. 

Our citizens are reflecting on their duties to themselves, 
to each other, and to successors. Every thing is to be hoped 
from this state of things. To the good sense of the people 
only can we look, for the salvation of the republic. If this 
fail, the American people will have proved, what European 
theorists have always said they would, that mankind, under 
the most favorable circumstances, are incapable of self- 
government ; and, that it is the ordained destiny of men, 
to waste themselves in vindictive and bloody factions, till 
they welcome despotism as the only chance for repose. 



INDEX 



Adams, John, Vice Pres. 1789, 31 — Pres. 
of U. S. 1797, 98 — personal appear- 
ance, 98 — remarks on, 98 — tirst speech 
to Congress, 98 — his cabinet, 9J — mis- 
sion to France 1797, 99 — public appro- 
bation of, 102 — Adams and Liberty 
(song), 102 — his conduct towards 
France, 103 — administration of, 104- 
116 — judiciary htw (1800), 113. 

Adams, John Ci., his vote on embargo, 
minister to Russia, at Ghent, at Lon- 
don, Sec. of State, Seminole war. Presi- 
dent of U. S., denunciation of traitors, 
renewal of, correspondence with, theie- 
on, Jeiferson's remarks to, Giles on his 
communications, 301, 302. 

Adam^, Samuel, Gov. of Mass., 94 — per- 
sonal appearance, 94. 

Adet, French minister 1795,59 — speech 
to Washington (French Hag), 59 — his 
official conduct, 60 — attempt to influ- 
ence election 1796, 67. 

Administrutions, comparison of, 30G. 

Alien and sedition laws, 106-8. 

Alietis, Jefferson's policy on, 177 — made 
citizens, by Jefferson, 177. 

Ames, Fisher, Mass., in Cong. 1787, 19 — 
speeches of, 20 — personal appearance, 
20 — on public dangers, 24 — speech on 
Jay's treaty, 62. 

Amory, Thomas C. (merchant), 238. 

Apostacy, in Jefferson's time, 159. 

Appointments by Pres. of U. S. (construc- 
tion), 32. 

Baltimore in 1812, 278. 

Bank of United States 1791, 35. 

Baring, Alexander, (M. P.) in United 
States, 89. 

Bayard, James A., and Jefferson, 150 — 
Jefferson's calumnies on, 150 — person 
and character, 152 — . vindication of, hy 
his sons, 153 — speech on judiciary, 158 
— speech on Jefferson's policy, 158 — 
commissioner at Ghent, 293, 

Bigelow, Timothy, notice of, 236. 
. Bollman, Dr. (Lafayette), 64 — at Burr's 

' trial, 187 — and Swartwout, 195 — treat- 

ment of, by Jefferson, 195. 

Bostonin 1788 (customs), 28 — in 1798, 96. 

Bowdoin, James, Gov. of Mass. in 1787, 5 
^founder of the American Academy 
of Arts and Sciences, 5 — administra- 
tion of, 6 — Gov. during rebellion, 6 — 
personal appearance of, 6, 

Brissot de Warville in United States, 29 
— guillotined at Paris, 29. 

39* 



Brooks, John, Gov. of Mass., 308 — per- 
son and character, 308. 

Burr, Aaron, conspiracy of, 184 — his acts 
in, 185 — arrested as a traitor, 186 — 
indictment of, for treason, 187 — (Wil- 
kinson, Giles, Randolph), 188 — trial of, 
before Ch. Just. Marshall, 190 — Jeffer- 
son's conduct on, 191 — Ch. Just. Mar- 
shall's remarks, 193 — Wirt's eloquence 
at, 197 — personal appearance of, 200 — 
Hamilton's opinions of, 201 — challenges 
and kills Hamilton, 2U2, 

Cabinet, Executive, the first formed, 33 — 
in 1795, 57 — of John Adams, 103. 

Cabot, George, tirst secretary of the navy, 
34— character of, 310. 

Cullender, his "Prospect before Us," 110 

— Jefferson's support of, 110 — and Jef- 
ferson, 110 — indicted for sedition, 110 

— pardoned by Jefferson, 112, 
Carroll, Charles (survivor), 91. 
Causes of war, in 1812, alleged, 255, 
Chase, Judge, trials before, 168 — im- 
peachment of, 169 — trial and counsel 
of, 170 — remarks on his trial, 171, 

Chesapeake and Leopard (ships), 256. 

Citizens, how misled by public men, 129. 

Civic feast in Boston in 1793, 27. 

Clay's remarks on patronage, 276. 

Clinton, Dewitt, nominated for Pres. 280. 

Cobb, David, Lieut. Gov. of Mass. 235 — 
person and character of, 235. 

Commissioners to Washington in 1815, 292. 

Confederation, old, of United States, IB- 
Story on, 16. 

Congress in 1774,16 — first, under U.S. 
Const., 26 — number of members, 32 — 
opposition to Washington in 1793, 45 — 
parties in 1793, 1794, 48 — in Dec. 1790, 
140— House of Rep. in 1801, 147. 

Conscription proposed in U, S,, 283 — 
French, 284, 

" Conspirators " in Mass., 261 — Madi- 
son's denunciation of, 261 — .J. Q.. Ad- 
ams on, 301. 

Constitution of U. States, Story's Comm. 
on, 16 — discussed at Boston, 18 — in- 
terest, at adoption of, 22 — different 
views of, 23 — and Hancock, 25 — 
amendments qf, 26 — dangers incident 
to, 30 — amendment in Jefferson's time, 
147. 

Convention at Annapolis in 1786, 17 — at 
Philadelphia in 1787, 17 — at Boston in 
1787, 17 — at N. York (P. U.S.) in 1812, 
280 — at Hartford in 1814, 286. 



342 



INDEX. 



Cooper, Rev. Dr. Samuel, 27 — person and 

character of, 27. 
Country after peace of 1783, 2— in 1788, 

22. 

Dallas, A. J., on the war of 1812, 275 — 
person and character, 43. 

Dana, Francis, Ch. Jus. Mass., 95 — his 
person and character, 95. 

Debt, public, of U. S. in 1789, 79. 

Democratic Societies, 41 — introduced by 
Genet, 41 — disapproved of by Wash- 
ington, 41. 

Despotism, near approach of, 1809, 222 — 
danger of falling into, 954 and 336. 

Dexter, Samuel, 325 — person and char- 
acter, 32G. 

Dummer academy, 29. 

DwighOs history of Hart. Con., 287. 

Eatov, Gen. William (Burr's trial), 189. 

Education in 1788, 29. 

Em/xiriro of 1807, 217 — alleged causes for 
layi:ig, 217 — real causes for laying, 220 
— ('fleets of, 220 — proceedings in Mass. 
on,-J22 — Lieut. Gov. Lincoln's acts 
on, 223 — repealed, 339 — Jefferson's 
various accounts of, 240. 

Kmmet, Thomas Addis, lOG — and Rufus 
King, lOG. 

English aggressions in 1793, 44 — cap- 
tures, impressments, 4-1. 

Essex Junto and Jefferson, 82. 

Excise law, 1791, 3'j — rebelled against, 38. 

Erecutire of U. S., dangerous power of, 
24. 

Fancket, French minister, 1794, 51 — in- 
tercepted despatches of, 55. 

Federal administration, 11(3 — end of, 
111). 

Federalism, character of, 302 — causes of 
overthrow, 304. 

Federaliit, by Jay, Hamilton, and Madi- 
son, 18. 

Prance, war and peace with, 102 — mis- 
sion to, in 1799, 103 — disapprobation of 
this measure, 103. 

French iuHuence in 1793, 41 — in 1794, 48 
— nation in 1795, 55 — flag brought by 
Adet,59— difficulties with, 1795, 60 — 
Gov't's treatment of Pinckney, 97 — 
privateers of, 97 — Gov. and Amer. En- 
voys, 1797, 99 — X, Y, Z despatches, 
100. 

Fries pardoned by John Adams, 114. 

Funding system, 78. 

Oallatin, Albert, 91 — person ajul charac- 
ter, 91. 

Oenet, French minister, 1793, 41 — intro- 
duces Jacobin clubs, 41 — his conduct, 
'^. 

Oerrij, Elbridge, Envoy to France, 99 — 
Governor of Mass., 238 — Vice Pres. 
of the U. S., 2.38. 

Gerrijmander, 238. 



Oiles, his resolutions against Hamilton, 
38 — speech against Washington, 39 — 
as a public man, 39 — his resolutions 
renewed, 48. 

Oore, Governor of Mass., 1809, 232— his 
report on Clay's resolutions, 232 — 
speech of, to Legis., 233 — members of 
Legis., 1809, 234 — person and charac- 
ter of, 309. 

Oun-boat system (Jefferson), 179. 

Haley, Mrs., sister of Wilkes, in U. S., 
28. 

Hamilton, Alexander, Sec. of Treasury, 
33 — first reports of, 34 — and Jefferson, 
hostility between, 35 — resolutions 
against, 38 — attacked in Freneau's pa- 
per, 38 — resolutions against, renewed, 
48 — last report, ,52 — letter on John 
Adams, 103 — character of, by Jeffer- 
son, 135 — personal appearance, 199 — 
eloquence of, 200 — character of, 200 

— killed by l?urr, 203 — reasons for ac- 
cepting challenge, 205 — his commen- 
tary on the affair, 205 — bis opinion on 
duelling, 205— funeral of, 208 — H. G. 
Otis's eulogy on, 208. 

Hancock, Governor of Mass., 9 — person- 
al appearance, 10 — succeeds Bowdoin, 
10 — character of, 11 — eft'cct of election 
of, 12 — patron of schools, 13 — con- 
duct to Gon. Lincoln, 14 — Washing- 
ton's visit to the East, 14 — motion to 
adopt the constitution of U. S., 25 — 
death and funeral of, 27. 

Harper, Gen. R. G., 90 — person and char- 
acter, 90. 

Hiirtford Convention, 286 — causes of, 286 

— Dwi?ht's history of, 287. 
Hnyne, Col. Isaac, S. C, 77. 
Henry plot (Madison), 261. 
Hichborn, Col. B., 314 
Higginson, Stephen (Jefferson), 314. 
Hoicard on French conscrip. 285. 
Huger, Col. (Lafayette), 64. 

Impressment, English, 44 — American pro- 
posed, 283. 
Insurrection in Mass., 4 — in Penn. 51. 
Irishmen, United, 106. 

Jaclison, Andrew, vote against thanking 
Washington in 1796, 40. 

Jacobin clubs, 1G7. 

JarvU, Dr. Chas., described, ^. 

Jay, mission to Eng. 1794, 49 — personal 
appearance, 49 — character of, 49 — 
treaty, reception of, 53 — ratified by 
Senate, .54 — Washington's reply to 
Boston, 54 — pul)lic dissatisfaction, 61 

— call on Pres. for papers, Gl — Debate 
in House of llep. 1796, 62 — law to 
carry into effect, 62 — change of public 
opinion on, 03. 

Jefferson, his commercial report, 1793, 45 

— character of, by Marshall, 45 — re- 
signs as Sec. of State, 1793, 46 — no- 



343 



tice of Marshall, 47 — letter to Thom- 
03 Paine, 66 — recommendation of 
Bache, 66 — letter of Washington to, 
on abuse, 67 — opinions of General 
Knox, 86 — and Callender, " Prospect 
befoie Us," 110 — construction of con- 
stitution (Callender), 111 — construc- 
tion of constitution (Duane), 112 — 
remarks on others, 112 — annulling Ad- 
ams's appointments, 114 — letter to 
Mazzei, 119 — Dwight's analysis of, 
120 — inaugural speech. Vice Pres., 123 

— personal appearance, 124 — vice pres- 
idency, 125 — " great services " as 
Vice Pres., 125 — how to be judge of, 
126 — of what class of statesmen, 129 

— why to be answered, 130 — writings 
of, 13i — what sort of man, 132 — mis- 
sion to France, 1784, 133 — never liked 
the constitution of the U. S., 133 — Sec. 
of State, 1790,134 — notice of Hamil- 
ton, 134 — notice of John Adams, 135 

— friendship for Jolin Adams, 136 — 
employment of Frencau, 137 — Wash- 
ington's notice of, 138 — calls Washing- 
ton infidel, 139 — remarks on federalists, 
139 — opinions on funding and U. S. 
Bank, 140 — opinions of Congress, 142 

— opinions on X, Y, Z " fever," 143 

— opinions on Essex Junto, 143 — 
causes of his success, 147 — election to 
Presidency, 147 — balloting for in H. 
of Rep., 1-18 — account of House of 
Rep., 15U — calumny on Bayard, 150 — 
views of him when elected, 153 — his 
real policy, 155 — mode of effecting, 
1.55 — state of the country in 1801, 155 
inaugural speech, 1.57 — deportment as 
Pres., 157 — invitation to apostacy, 158 

— Bayard on his appohitments, 158 — 
apostacy in his time, 1.59 — hostility to 
judiciary, 162 and 166 — first message 
to Congress, 165 — remarks on his pol- 
icy, 171 — purchase of Louisiana, 172 

— what his motives in, 174 — on alien 
and sedition laws, 176 — his opinion of 
merchants, 176 — citizenship of aliens, 
177 — hostility to navy, 179 and 274 — 
gun-boat system, 180 — Bollnian and 
Swartwout, arrest of, 195 — and Spain, 
(Louisiana,) 209 — two millions given 
Napoleon, 209 — message to Congress 
on, 209 — Randolph's pamphlet on, 211 

— Randolph's opinion of, 211 — opin- 
ion of Congress, 215 — his account of 
himself, 143 — his "greatest service," 
244 — declaration of independence, 
246 — author of nullification, 247 — 
extraordinary opinions of, 248 — effect 
of his policy, 249 — author of party 
violence, 249 — how he found the U. S. 
in 1801, 2.50 — how he left the U. S. 
in 1809, 250 — respect for privateering, 
274 — his religion, 298. 

Judges of Mass., robes of, 27. 
Judiciary, its importance, 166 — Jeffer- 
son's hostility to, 162-7. 



Judiciary law (John Adams), 113. 

Kent, Duke of, in the U. S., 88. 

King, Rufus, personal appearance, 21 — 

character of, 21 — speeches of, 21 . 
Knox, Henry, resigns as Sec. of War, 5Q 

— personal appearance, 84 — character 
of, 84 — Jefferson's opinion of, 86 — 
on " anonymous letters," 87. 

Lafayette and Washington, (')3. 

Lee, Gen. Henry, 51 — commands in 
Pennsylvania insurrection, 51 — Con- 
gress eulogist of Wasliington, 117 — 
wounded in Baltimore mob, 278. 

Lincoln, Gen. Benj. (Mass.), 82 — Han- 
cock's treatment of, 14 — personal ap- 
pearance, 81 — character of, 83. 

Lincoln, Levi, Lieut. Gov. of Mass., 226 

— speech to Legis. 18U9, 226 — reply 
of Legis. to, 228 — conduct on militia, 
231. 

Liston, English minister, 1797, 90. 
Lloyd, James, Senator, 20. 
Logan'.i mission to France, 113. 
Louis Phillipe, (King) in U. S., 89. 
Loi(ma7in, purchase of, 172 — difficulties 

o:i, 180. 
Lowell, John, public writings, 330. 
Lyndhurst, Lord, in U. S., 64. 

Madison,\\\n resolutions, 1794, 48 — perso- 
nal appearance, 90 — policy as Pres. of 
U. S., 251 — declared motives to war, 
2.55 — supposed motives to war, 260 — 
Henry plot, message on, 261 — and 
"conspirators" Mass., 2()1 — proposes 
war with Eng., 266 — proposes to con- 
quer Canada, 273 — demands militia, 
273 — his supposed opinions of himself, 
278 — distress during war, 282 — pro- 
posed conscription, 283 — proposed im- 
pressment, 283 — declines armistice, 291 

— peace made at Ghent, 293 — message 
on, 293 — public services, 295 — retire- 
ment of, 296 — character of, 296 — why 
he should be treated of, 297. 

Marshall, John, life of Washington, 30 — 
his character of Jefferson, 46 — Envoy 
to France, 99 — speech on Jona. Rob- 
bins, 105 — Secretary of State (J. Ad- 
ams) in 1800, appointed Chief Justice 
in 1801, presides at Burr's trial, 186. 

Massachusetts after peace of 1783, 2 — 
debt of, 3 — rebellion in, 1787, 4 — end 
of, 6 — manufactures in, 1788, 13 — 
proceedings of Leg., 1809, 227 — mem- 
bers of Leg., 234 — " Conspiracy" in, 
(Madison) 261. 

Mazzei, Jefferson's letter to, 119— trouble 
on, 122 — attempt to exculpate, 122. 

Merchants, Jefferson and Madison on, 
176 — their usefulness, 237. 

Minot, G. R., historian, eulogist, 118. 

Monroe, James, sent to France, 1795, 59 

— Pres. of If. S., 300 — personal ap- 
pearance, 300 — character of, 301. 



344 



Morris, Robert, 92 — personal appearance, 
92 — public services, 93 — character of, 
94. 

JVational Gov. under U. S. Cons., 30. 
JVaturaliiatio7i of aliens (Jefferson), 177. 
JVavy and gun-boats, 180. 
JVeutrality, proclamation of 1793, 40 — 

Adet's complaints on, 67. 
JVew England, distresses of, by war, 286 

— measures for defence, 286. 

Old confederation, 16 — Story on, 16. 

Orders in Council, English, S259. 

Otis, Harrison Gray, in 1812, 275 — Com- 
missioner to Nat. Gov. 1712, 292 — pub- 
lic services of, 329 — eulogy on Hamil- 
ton, 208. 

Paine, R. T., Judge, 95 — poet, 102 — 
Adams and Liberty, 102 — Oration to 
young men, 102. 

Paine, Thomas, letter to Washington, 64 
— letter of Jefferson to, 66 — invited to 
U. S. by Jefferson, 66 — Cobbett takes 
up his bones, 66. 

Parker, Isaac, Ch. Jus., 324 — person and 
character, 325. 

Parsons, Theophilus, Ch. Jus., 321 — per- 
son and character, 322 

Parties in 1789, 23 — in 1793, 48 — how 
composed, 126. 

Party, present dominion of, 254. 

Peace of 1815, 293. 

Perkins, James, merchant, 237 — gift to 
Athenaeum, 237. 

Perkins, Thomas H., merchant, 237 — 
gift to Asylum for blind, 237. 

Philadelphia in 1796, 1797, W98, 90. 

Pickering, Timothy, dismissed by J. Ad- 
ams, 103 — character of, 313 — Jeffer- 
son's remarks on, 314. 

Pinckney, Charles C, 58 — minister to 
France, 1795, 63 — reception of, 57. 

Pinckney, Thomas, minister in London, 58 

— person and character, 58. 
Pinckney, Governor, minister in Spain, 58. 
Pinkney, Wm. (lawyer), 58. 

Power of appointment, Ex. of U. S., 32. 
President of U. S., election of, 1796, 97 — 

1801, 147 — 1813, 280 — 1837, 336. 
Proclamation of ncut. 1793, 40. 
" Prospect before Us " (Callender), 110. 

Quincy, Josiah, author of address of mi- 
nority of H. of R. 1812, 273 — in 1812, 
275 — public services of, 275. 

Randolph, Edm., of Virg. 56 — and Fau- 
chet's despatches, 56 — personal ap- 
pearance, 57. 

Randolph, John, on Louis, purchase, 210 

— on money given to Napoleon, 210 — 
speech on taking Canada, 270. 

Rebellion in Mass. 1787, 6 — in Pennsyl- 
vania 1794, 51. 
Reports of Sec. to Congress, 32, 



Robbins, Jona., Marshall's speech on, 104 

— party measure, 106. 
Russell, Benjamin, editor, 235. 

Sargent, Daniel, merchant, 275. 
Secretaries, reports to Congress, 32. 
Sedgwick, Theo., in Congress, 95 — Judge 

Mass., 95 — person and character, 95. 
Sedition law (J. Adams), 109. 
Sewall, Sam., Ch. Jus., 324. 
Society in 1788, 11. 
Spain, negotiations with 1805, 209. 
Sparks, J. (Washington), 119. 
Speculation in funds, 1790, 1791, 34. 
Statesmen, two kinds of, 127. 
Story, Judge, on Constitution of U. S., 16 

— in Congress (Jefferson, embargo), 
241. 

Strong, Caleb, Governor -of Mass., 308. 
Sullivan, James, Governor of Mass., 255. 
Sumner, Increase, Gov. of Mass., 94. 

Talleyrand in U. S., 51 — personal ap- 
pearance, 51 — remarks on U. S., 52. 

Tender laws, 3. 

Terror which came with war, 277. 

Tonnage, duty in 1793, 33. 

Treaty with England, 1794, 53 — France 
1800, 103 — England 1806, rejected, 
218 — of peace 1815,293. 

Truiton, Commodore, captures French 
frigate, 102 — witness in Burr's trial, 
189. 

Union, danger of dissolution of, 339. 

United Irishmen, 106. 

United States in 1801, 250— in 1809, 250 

— in 1815, 293 — in 1834, 235 — perils 
of, from party, 235. 

Volney, of France, in U. S. in 1797, 90 — 
Jefferson's remarks on, 109. 

Walsh, R., on French power, 284. 

War of 1812, 255 — alleged causes of, 
255 — supposed, 260 — committee of 
H. of R., 266 — on what grounds op- 
posed, 269 — Randolph's opinion of 
that project, 270 — state of Europe 
when declared, 271 — address of mi- 
nority of H. of R., 273 — condition of 
U. S., 273 — conquest of Canada, 273 

— terror which came with, 277 — pro- 
gress of, 281 — distress of admin., 282 

— end of, 293. 

Ward, Artemas, member of Cong., 332. 
Washington benevolent societies, 279. 
Washington, his visit to the Eastern 
States, 14 — first President of U. S., 30 

— arrival at N. Y., 1789, 31 — forms 
cabinet, 33 — proclamation of neutrality, 
40 — speech to Congress, 1793, 45 — 
abuse of, on Jay's treaty, 53 — reply to 
Boston, on, 54 — conduct to E. Ran- 
dolph, 56 — reply to Adet (flag), 59 — 
perplexities with France, 60 — attempts 
to free Lafayette, 63 — Th. Paine'a let- 



345 



ter to, 64 — charges against, 66 — abuse 
at cud of his second term, 67 — letter 
to Jefferson on, 69 — farewell address, 
71 —ball in Phila., 72 —present at J 
Adams's inaug., 72 — retirement of, 72 
— personal appearance, 1797,72— hab- 
its of life, 74 — complaint on his cere- 
monies, 74 — his vindication of, 74 — 
hia levees, 75 — Mrs., visits to, 76 — 
difficulties of his administration, 76 — 
character of his admin., 77 — appoint- 
ed to command in the war with France, 
85 — death of, 117— eulogies on, 118 



— monument of, proposed, 118 — re- 
marks on Froneau, 137 — Jefferson'g 
remarks on, 139. 

jyirt, William, 196 — counsel against 
Burr, 196 — personal appearance, 196 

— eloquence of, 196 ■ — character of, 
196. 

X, Y, Z affair in France, 100. 

Young men, suggestions to, 337. 
Yi-ajo, Spanish minister, 90. 



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