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480

DISSENSIONS IN THE CABINET.

[CHAP. VI. tually complied. That there had been no act of this character since the peace, and though there had been, it was void by the paramount force of treaties over State laws, as all the State Courts expressly recognized; and thus the injured party had the means of redress in their own hands. He vindicated the State judicatures against every charge, and showed that they all had been open to British creditors. On the subject of interest, he justified the States for deducting it during the war, on several distinct grounds. Having thus answered every complaint urged by Mr. Hammond, he argued that Great Britain had no ground for refusing to comply with her express stipulations in the seventh article of the treaty. He concluded in the same conciliatory tone which both parties had manifested throughout the correspondence.

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Mr. Hammond, on the second of June, after expressing, in general terms, his dissent from some of the principles relied on, and some of the facts stated by Mr. Jefferson, said he should transmit Mr. Jefferson's letter to his government, and thus closed this part of their correspondence.

That division of political sentiment which was now so clearly manifested in Congress, had extended itself to the two members of the Cabinet, Messrs. Jefferson and Hamilton, and the breach between them naturally gaining strength from time, was greatly widened by the agency of the press. The two leading newspapers in Philadelphia were Fenno's Gazette, which supported Hamilton and his party, and Freneau's, which assailed Hamilton and his leading measures, and defended Jefferson.

This want of harmony in the two leading members of the Cabinet caused great regret and anxiety to General Washington and increased his desire to quit his present

1792.]

EXCISE LAW.

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office; but as both Jefferson and Hamilton concurred in urging upon him strong considerations of public interest to serve a second term, he consented, and received the same unanimous vote as before.

Having thus consented to serve a second term, he redoubled his efforts to reconcile the discord between his two Secretaries, and succeeded so far as to procure from both promises of forbearance and of conciliation, but these offices of intercession were interrupted in the autumn by the increased violence of the discontents occasioned by the excise law.

This law must, under any circumstances, have been an unwelcome tax to the people who lived in the West. Not then accommodated with their present facilities of transportation, or even with good roads across their mountains, they had but little trade with the Atlantic cities, and only procured from them such articles as were indispensable to their simple and frugal style of living. They therefore had very little money, and the excise on their whiskey, by which alone they could make their grain marketable, threatened to deprive them of that little. They regarded the tax, therefore, as far more burdensome on them than the impost was on the Atlantic population, possessing, as it did, the choice of the markets of the world.

To this solid foundation for their hostility to the law, were added the political objections which had been urged to it by the opposition, that, by subjecting the citizens generally to the domiciliary visits of revenue officers, it was peculiarly odious, and was repugnant to the genius of a free people. These objections had the greater weight with many, because they were led to believe that the necessity for further revenue had been created by a majority in Congress, by an assumption of the State debts, VOL. I. 31

482

THE NORTH-WESTERN ARMY.

[CHAP. VI.

for the purpose of increasing the power and patronage of the government, and of augmenting the gains of greedy speculators, in Congress as well as out of it.

There had been an organized opposition to the law by a public meeting in Pittsburg in the preceding year, and alterations in the act of Congress had been made on the suggestion of Hamilton, with the view of obviating some of those objections. They had not, however, answered their intended purpose. The opposition continued to gain strength. From censure, the opponents of the law proceeded to open resistance.

The President, on learning this state of things, issued a proclamation, in which he represented to the malcontents the consequences of their illegal course. He further wrote to the Attorney-General to prosecute the offenders, and to attend to the prosecution in person.

The Indian war in the north-west also claimed the attention of the government. It was deemed indispensable to appoint a new commander of the army, while St. Clair's conduct was about to undergo investigation in Congress, and by a military tribunal. The President was disposed to appoint General Henry Lee, then Governor of Virginia, to this post, but having soon ascertained that those who had been his seniors in the army would be unwilling to serve under him, and that if the army should again be unsuccessful under juniors, the course of the administration would be subjected to censure, he (apparently with some hesitation) appointed General Wayne to the command.

The Declaration of Rights by the National Assembly, together with the efforts of the Amis des Noirs in Paris, induced the free people of color in St. Domingo to assert claims in the island, to which the colonists refusing assent, the mulattoes and their white friends took up

1792.]

THE PRESIDENT'S SPEECH.

483

arms. The French government finding the value of the colony impaired, and perhaps its dominion and authority in jeopardy, endeavored at first to restore the former condition of things; but on the fifteenth of May, 1791, they passed a decree which extended to the people of color the right of suffrage, and made them eligible to the colonial Legislature; and this decree being violently resisted by the whites, the breach between the two races was thus widened, and in the following August the slaves, who again were disposed to assert their rights, conspired to massacre the whites, and partially effected their purpose, with the practice of every enormity that their savage fury and animosity could suggest. Many of the survivors sought an asylum in the United States.

Congress assembled on the fifth of November, and in the opening speech of the President, the most prominent feature was the continuance of Indian-hostility, in spite of the efforts of the Government to bring it to a termination. He added that there were symptoms of an unfriendly spirit on the part of the Southern Indians. He accordingly had aimed to prepare for war also with them.

He again urges on Congress the necessity of repressing the outrages of the whites on these people, by the employment of respectable agents to reside among them, and by the promotion of civilization in the friendly tribes.

He stated that the revenue was productive, and would have been more so, but for the impediments to the collection of duties on distilled spirits. The opposition, however, had greatly narrowed in extent, but had increased in violence in particular districts. Measures had been taken to prosecute the offenders.

He further recommended a revision of the judiciary system; preventive measures against the aggressions of

484

NEGOTIATIONS WITH SPAIN.

[CHAP. VI.

American citizens on the territory of other nations; the execution of the law which established the mint; some reforms in the post-office, to facilitate the transmission of newspapers; and the negotiation of loans for nine millions of florins on account of the public debt, and for its reduction, the terms of whieh, he said, indicated a most favorable state of the public credit abroad.

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The answers of both Houses evince views entirely in harmony with those of the Executive, especially as to the principal measures of the Indian war, the opposition to the revenue laws, and the reduction of the public debt.

The next day, the President communicated to both Houses certain papers relative to the interference of Spanish authorities in the execution of the treaty between the United States and the Creek Indians, in 1790.

It appeared by these papers that Spain complained of the boundary line determined by the treaty with the Creeks as including a part of their territory, and which they say ought not to have been made until the negotiation then going on between the United States and Spain was terminated.

The Secretary of State, in answer to a letter from the Spanish Commissioners, Messrs. Viar and Jaudenes, stated to them that the allegation of threats by the United States against the Creeks was unfounded: that they, on the contrary, had made every endeavor to preserve peace with these Indians, and had, with that view, suspended running the boundary line agreed on by treaty, under the hope that, on further consideration, they would freely concur in carrying it into execution. He agreed that the interests which either nation had with those Indians, are a proper subject of discussion in the negotiation now going on at Madrid by the American Commissioners there.

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