صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني




class, without looking for any immediate benefit from legislation, naturally expected to share in the general prosperity, and to profit by an improvement of the markets, both foreign and domestic. In the cities, especially, where these benefits were more fully appreciated, there were pompous and costly demonstrations of the general joy.

But it must not be supposed that these favorable sentiments, and pleasing anticipations relative to the new government, were universal. Far from it. There were not a few in all the States who viewed that government with undisguised fear and disapprobation. With the mass of the people, to whom most of the members of the convention were strangers, it was as a foreign government, or at least an untried novelty, and was regarded by them without affection or confidence; and men of mere local influence felt themselves humbled by the superior power and importance of the federal functionaries. There were even some who saw, in a President, Senate, and House of Representatives, the British government plainly foreshadowed, and honestly apprehended that the Federal Executive might, by gradual changes, be converted into a king. Monarchical government was known to be in favor, in the abstract, with many; several members of the Federal Convention had so expressed themselves; and Patrick Henry had remarked, in the Virginia convention, that the new Constitution had "an awful squinting-it squinted at monarchy."

Those who entertained these sentiments were soon marshalled into a party, and from their opposition to the new Federal government, were called anti-Federalists; but inasmuch as they preferred a purely federal union to one of a consolidated or national character, they might, with more propriety, have been termed Federalists than their VOL. I. 25



opponents, who favored all the national features of the new Constitution. These two parties were first distinctly formed during the discussions in the State conventions, and constituted the leading political division for several years.

Though the fourth of March was appointed by the new Constitution for the meeting of the Federal Congress, it was the first of April before there was a quorum of the House of Representatives. On that day, Frederick Muhlenburg, member from Pennsylvania, was chosen Speaker, and John Beckley, Clerk. Of the members of this first Congress, eight of the Senators had been in the late Federal Convention, who were: Langdon, of New Hampshire; Ellsworth and Johnson, of Connecticut; Rufus King, then of Massachusetts, but now of New York; Patterson, of New Jersey; Carroll, of Maryland; Butler, of South Carolina; and Few, of Georgia. There were also eight members of the convention in the House: Gilman, of New Hampshire; Gerry, of Massachusetts; Sherman, of Connecticut; Clymer and Fitzsimmons, of Pennsylvania; Carroll, of Maryland; Madison, of Virginia; and Baldwin, of Georgia.

One of the first acts of the National Legislature was to count the votes which had been given by the electors of the President and Vice-President. The result was immediately communicated to the newly-elected officers. The second day after General Washington was thus officially informed of his election, he set out from Mount Vernon, his place of residence in Virginia, for New York. In all the towns he passed through, in his journey from Virginia, he was received with an enthusiasm which knew no bounds. When he appeared in sight of New York, on the twenty-third of April, its spacious harbor was covered with vessels and boats of every description,




decorated with gay flags, and moving in every direction, while the air was rent with the music of the numerous bands, the discharges of cannon, and the yet louder huzzas of a people in a delirium of delight and exultation.

On the thirtieth of April, the new President took the oath of office, and delivered an address to both Houses of Congress, in which he thought proper to justify himself for again entering into public life, after having taken formal leave of it. He expressed devout thanks for the visible agency of Providence in the past progress of the United States to independence; and he excused himself to the new government just established for not recommending particular subjects to their consideration, which he thought, on the present occasion, unnecessary. He then, in conformity with his past practice, declined any personal emolument from his office; and he asked that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which he was placed "should be limited to such expenditures as the public good may be thought to require."

Cordial and complimentary responses were made by both Houses to this address, and they forthwith proceeded to the execution of their high duties of putting the new government into operation. But as a preliminary measure, the temporary heads of departments were required to furnish to Congress accurate information of the exist ing state of public affairs.

According to the information then given, the treasury was empty, though the claims on it were very heavy, and were daily increasing. The amount of public debt, foreign and domestic, at the end of the year 1789, would be about forty-two millions of dollars, of which eleven and a half millions were due abroad. Justice, honor, and policy, as well as national gratitude, all required that adequate provision should be made for these creditors.



[CHAP. V. The condition of the new settlers in the West also presented a cause of solicitude. Spain held the land on both sides of the Mississippi, near its mouth; and the town of New Orleans being the only commercial post on the river, she was able to open or close it to the people of Kentucky and other Western settlers as she thought proper. Since this river furnished to them the only outlet for the raw produce yielded by their teeming soil, the navigation of it was of the last importance to them; and they had exhibited the most anxious impatience to have it secured to them by treaty. Spain, however, as we have seen, had always refused to grant them this privilege; and, in the desire to make a commercial treaty with that nation, some of the Atlantic States had been willing to concede to Spain the exclusive right of navigating the river for twenty-five years. Though this offer failed for want of the support of the requisite number of States, the disposition that had been thus manifested to sacrifice the interests of the Western country, had excited lively resentment with the people of Kentucky, and had even led some of her citizens to open a negotiation with the Spanish minister, Gardoqui, to which he was nothing loth, towards a separation from the Atlantic States. General Washington had learned, just before he left Mount Vernon, that these discontents in the West had been fomented both by Spanish and British agents, but with very different objects-Spain wishing to effect a separation of the Western States, with some hope of attaching them to her dominion; and Great Britain proposing to aid them in making a conquest of New Orleans, and in fortifying the mouth of the Mississippi.

Many of the neighboring Indian tribes had shown symptoms of hostility to several of the States. Between the great Lakes, the Mississippi, and the Ohio, there were




computed to be five thousand fighting men of this race, about one-third of whom were at open war with the United States. With the residue there were treaties; but these being liable to be broken at any time by individuals of either party, furnished no security for the continuance of peace.

Of the Barbary powers, a treaty had been made with Morocco alone; and, consequently, the commerce of the United States in the Mediterranean afforded to Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, a temptation which was not likely to be long resisted. The foreign commerce of the United States was then on a most disadvantageous footing. Under the regal government, the colonies had carried on an extensive and profitable trade with the British West Indies; and so indispensable to them were many of the articles thus furnished, that, immediately after the peace of 1783, Mr. Pitt was willing to enter intó negotiations for the renewal of the former trade; but soon finding that, for want of a concerted system of action, the States could not retaliate the commercial restrictions of Great Britain, that measure was declined, and all overtures for a treaty of commerce were unhesitatingly rejected. The vessels of the States were interdicted from all trade with the British colonies, and none of the productions of those colonies were allowed to be there imported into the States, even in British vessels, except lumber and bread-stuffs, which they could not easily procure elsewhere.

Efforts had been also made to negotiate commercial treaties with other European powers; but they had been attended with little success. The failure with Portugal was attributed to the influence of Great Britain, as were also the hostile incursions of Indian tribes; nor had the commercial intercourse with France, who, like the other

« السابقةمتابعة »