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1791.]

RELATIONS WITH THE INDIANS.

465

Under this head we may also notice the relations with the Indians, which, in their diversified character, constitute no insignificant item in the concerns of the Federal government. With some one or more of their various tribes the United States are often at open war, and as, in time of peace, treaties are negotiated for the purchase of their lands, many of them are thus pensioners of the Federal government. The trade with them is subjected to strict regulation, for the sake of protecting them from both the frauds and the open violence of the whites; and lastly, their gradual advancement in the arts of civilized life, and especially of agriculture, has ever been a cherished object with this government.

It has been fortunate for the settlement of the western wilderness that the ownership of the soil has been uniformly recognized to be in its original occupants, and that the right to make purchases from them has always been reserved exclusively to the government; for if private individuals or associations had been allowed this privilege, the large bodies of land which the cupidity of capitalists would have easily obtained from the Indians, with their recklessness of the future, and their resistless craving for intoxicating liquors, would have impeded the settlement of the country, and laid the foundation for overgrown landed estates, which are more or less unfavorable to republican institutions, and would have narrowed the territory of the aborigines, by which their numbers would be reduced, and their means of subsistence rendered more precarious.

But, notwithstanding this precaution, it has been found impossible to prevent collisions between them and the whites, whenever, in the progress of the latter, the two come into contact. As the Indians know themselves to be the weaker party, and foresee that they must evenVOL. I. — 30

466

MINISTERS FROM THE UNITED STATES. [CHAP. VI.

tually yield to the superior power and resources of civilized men, they are seldom the aggressors; and generally, it is not until after a succession of injuries, to which they see no end, that they, in despair, take up arms, and find a brief consolation in the sufferings they are able to inflict on their enemies, before they are reduced to submission. Revenge being, then, their sole object, it overleaps all restraint, and the lives of all whites, without regard to age or sex, are indiscriminately sacrificed.

General Washington, in April, 1791, wrote to Alexander Hamilton: "Every expedient is tried to avert a war with the hostile tribes of Indians, and to keep those who are in treaty with us, as I believe you know, in good humor: but I am almost thoroughly convinced that neither will be effected, or, if effected, will be of short duration, whilst land-jobbing, and the disorderly conduct of our borderers, are suffered with impunity, and while the States individually are omitting no occasion to intermeddle in matters which belong to the General government. He afterwards adds: "To sum up the whole in a few words, the interference of States, and the speculations of individuals, will be the bane of all our public

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Soon after the British Minister's arrival, Thomas Pinckney, of South Carolina, was appointed Minister from the United States to Great Britain; Gouverneur Morris, Minister to France; and William Short, who had been left by Mr. Jefferson as Chargé d'Affaires in France, was sent to join Carmichael in Spain.

As it was decided to chastise the Indians on the northern frontier, if they could not be intimidated into peace, the President determined to put all the means in his power into requisition. The chief command was 1 V. Sparks's Washington, page 155.

1

1791.]

PARTIES IN CONGRESS

467

given to General St. Clair, at that time Governor of the Territory north-west of Ohio; the command of the new levies was given to General Butler; and of the militia, to General Scott. While the main force was collecting, an expedition of five hundred mounted men under Scott was sent against them, and attacking the tribes on the Wabash, they were dispersed, and their villages burnt. Peace would have been effected, but for the interference of the British commander at Fort Erie.

A second expedition of mounted volunteers under Wilkinson, in August, was also successful, though not to the same extent.

In the election of members to the second Congress, which took place during this year, in most of the States, especially the Southern, the rival candidates were supported as friends or opponents of the administration, or rather of its measures, for the popularity of General Washington was not yet visibly impaired, and Alexander Hamilton was the chief object of attack by the antiFederal party.

A majority of the members returned from Virginia, and the States south of it, belonged to this party, of which the Secretary of State, known to be decidedly opposed to all of Hamilton's financial schemes, was regarded as the head. But in the Middle and the Northern States the Federal party had the ascendency. That party had received a great accession of strength from the funding of the public debt, the assumption of the State debts, the establishment of a bank, and from the encouragement given to navigation, commerce, and some branches of manufacture by the tonnage duties and impost. The public confidence in the efficiency and stability of the government which those measures had produced, the extension of mercantile credit, and the

468

PRESIDENT'S SPEECH.

[CHAP. VI. increased activity of commerce, being attributed to the salutary power of the new government, and the prudent exercise of those powers, procured for it great popularity, and in the loud encomiums of its friends its former opponents were for the time completely silenced. Among those who now supported the leading measures of the administration were found some who had been at first opposed to the new Constitution. Mr. Madison was the only conspicuous instance of the opposite change. His present course not only coincided with the opinions of Mr. Jefferson, for which he had always shown great respect, but it was also in accordance with what seemed now to be the ruling sentiment in Virginia.

The second Congress met on the twenty-fourth of October, 1791.

Among the subjects of congratulation by the Presi dent, in his opening speech to Congress, he particularly dwells on the progress of every branch of national industry, which he attributes to the public confidence produced by the Federal Constitution and laws. In his notice of Indian affairs, then in a threatening and unsettled state, he recommends, as making a resort to coercion unnecessary, besides precautions for the protection of their rights, such experiments "for imparting to them the blessings of civilization," as would be suitable to their condition. Such a course, he adds, would be as honorable to the national character as it was conformable to sound policy.

He adverts to some local discontents to which the tax on distilled spirits had given rise, and which, originating in misconception, would yield to proper explanations: at the same time he advises a revision of the excise act, that, as far as practicable, the administration of the laws might rest on the affections of the people.

After mentioning the principal measures of the admin

1791.]

APPORTIONMENT BILL.

469

istration during the recess-Indian treaty, census, foreign measures, the new District of Columbia he renews his former recommendations of particular objects of legislation; as the post-office, militia, fortifications, the vacant land, and the establishment of a mint; and points out the importance of each.

An undiminished personal respect for the Chief Magistrate was indicated by the answers of both Houses.1

1

A bill in the House of Representatives for a new apportionment of members to that body, in conformity with the recent census, proposed thirty thousand as the number of inhabitants for each Representative, which would give one hundred and thirteen members. They were induced to adopt the lowest ratio permitted by the Constitution, because the House would be thereby better able, by its numbers, to resist the undue influence of the Senate, which was supposed to be more aristocratic in its tendencies.

The Senate, however, by its amendments, substituted thirty-three thousand, as a ratio that would lessen the fractions remaining to the States after their proportion of members were severally allotted to them. The House refused to concur in this amendment, and the Senate adhering to it, the bill was lost.

By a second bill, the House again proposed the ratio of thirty thousand, and also a new census previous to an apportionment. The Senate rejected the new census, and proposed, by allowing a member to the largest fractions, to make the number of Representatives one hunhundred and twenty. This amendment being disagreed to by the House, the subject was referred to a committee of conference, which at first could come to no agreement; 1 I. American State Papers, page 22.

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