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1796.]

THREE FRIGATES AUTHORISED.

595

cruisers, under the pretext that they were British subjects, from whom that Government claimed an indefeasible allegiance, Congress, by way of checking the evil, passed an act which authorised the Government of the United States to appoint two or more agents-one to reside in Great Britain, the others at such places as the Executive should select, to investigate and report to the State Department all cases of impressment, with authority to afford relief to the persons illegally impressed; for which purpose fifteen thousand dollars were appropriated. Collectors were required to grant certificates of citizenship to all American seamen, and captains of vessels to make protests of impressment, and transmit them to the Government.

In consequence of the pacification with the Indians, the military establishment was reduced to two thousand eight hundred men, consisting of the corps of engineers and artillerists, two companies of light dragoons, and four regiments of infantry.

The three frigates ordered to be built in 1794 not having been yet finished, the further completion of them was earnestly resisted by the opposition; but a small number of that party from the maritime cities, deeming a navy an essential protection to foreign commerce, voted with the Federalists, and the appropriation was made.

This was one of the points in which the Republican party may be pronounced to have been clearly wrong, as their policy has been since condemned by their own party. The three frigates since so conspicuous in our naval annals—the Constitution, the United States, and the Constellation—were then ordered to be built.

The act of 1789, which fixed the compensation of the members of Congress at six dollars a day, had, by

596

TENNESSEE ADMITTED INTO THE UNION. [CHAP. VIII.

way of compromise between the two Houses, allowed the Senators seven dollars a day after the fourth of March, 1795. A new bill on the subject put the members of the two Houses on the same footing, and proposed to substitute an annual salary instead of daily pay. This proposition, however, was rejected, and a bill was passed giving six dollars a day to all.

Mr. Madison offered a resolution for an inspection and survey of the great post-road from Maine to Georgia, which having passed, a committee was appointed to bring in a bill; but it was not acted on. This seems to have been the first step taken by Congress towards making roads under the power given by the Constitution concerning the post-office, and which, about thirty years afterwards, became one of the most agitated and interesting constitutional questions.

The revenue and the expenditures of the Government this year were between six and seven millions of dollars; but as a part of the public debt was then payable, a loan of five millions of dollars was authorised.

Tennessee was admitted into the Union at this session, not, however, without opposition from the Federalists, thirty of whom voted against it to forty-two in favor of it. Its population, by a census taken for the occasion, was sixty-seven thousand whites, and ten thousand slaves. After the bill for admission passed the House, the Senate renewed the opposition, and endeavored to postpone the bill, under the pretext of taking the census by the Federal Government; but, on a conference between the two Houses, the bill finally passed. The population of the new State was divided into two distinct settlements in its eastern and western portions, which were distant from each other more than one hundred miles, and

1796.] MONROE SUCCEEDS GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.

597

separated by a territory still owned and inhabited by Indians.

Congress adjourned on the twenty-ninth of June, 1796. It was soon found by the administration that, in settling their difficulties with Great Britain by the treaty, they had increased those with France-a result that probably not a few of the Federal party wished, as well as expected, and which others naturally and justly regarded as the least of the alternative evils presented to their choice.

The President, at the time that he recalled Gouverneur Morris, in compliance with the request of the French Government, had written to him a letter expressive of his continued esteem, and of his approbation of his diplomatic course; but this letter having fallen into the hands of a French cruiser, increased the discontent and suspicion of that Government. It was hoped that as Monroe was known to be a warm friend of the French revolution, and one of the party most opposed to Great Britain, this would tend to regain the confidence of the French Government, and revive its amicable feelings towards the United States. Mr. Monroe himself was thoroughly disposed to second these views of the administration, and he had qualities that were likely to make his effort successful. He was most credulous and confiding towards those he liked, and equally suspicious towards those with whom he differed. He accordingly went to France with a full persuasion that the ruling party in that country was honest and sincere; that they really had the same devotion to the principles of civil freedom which he himself felt; and that nothing more was necessary for the success of his mission, and the restoration of harmony between the two nations, than to satisfy the French that General Washington, notwithstanding

598

MONROÉ IN FRANCE.

[CHAP. VIII.

the British treaty, was still the friend of France, and truly attached to republican principles.

Monroe reached France in 1794, before Jay's treaty was negotiated, and not only on his arrival, but for more than a year afterwards, labored zealously to bring about a good understanding between the United States and France, and to satisfy the French authorities that General Washington was their sincere friend. In this he met with but partial success. Much of the prejudice against the United States he was unable to remove, and the consequence was that American commerce became the prey of their cruisers. He still persevered in his conciliatory course, for his heart was in it; and he so far gained the confidence of the French, that it was proposed by the Convention to give the American Minister a public reception.

He readily accepted the invitation, and presented an address to the Committee of Public Safety, in which he warmly eulogises French valor in the field, and French wisdom and firmness in council. The President's reply was also in a style of inflated compliment to the United States. "The French people," said he, "have not forgotten that it is to the American people they owe their initiation into the cause of liberty. It was in admiring the sublime insurrection of the American people against a nation once so haughty, now so humbled; it was in themselves taking arms to second your courageous efforts, and in cementing your independence by the blood of our brave warriors, that the French people learned in their turn to break the sceptre of tyranny, and to elevate the statue of liberty on the wreck of a throne, supported during fourteen centuries only by crimes and corruption.

"But it is not merely a diplomatic alliance-it is the sweetest, the most frank fraternity that must unite us;

1794.]

MONROE IN FRANCE.

599

and this union shall be forever indissoluble, as it will be forever the dread of tyrants." After adding more in this strain of affectation and extravagance, then in vogue, he says, "I am impatient to give you the fraternal embrace, which I am ordered to give in the name of the French people. Come and receive it in the name of the American people, and let this spectacle complete the annihilation of an impious coalition of tyrants." The embrace, or accolade as it was called, was accordingly given.

After this unwonted theatrical display of national cordiality, Mr. Monroe was offered a "national house," in "that" quarter of the city which he should select, as a place of residence; but his acceptance was forbidden by the Constitution,' as well as by propriety, though the former was the only reason assigned for his refusal.

In Mr. Randolph's notice of this public reception, he bestows a slight reproof on the fervor of the language used by the Minister, and he remarks, "Under the influence of these sentiments, we should have hoped that your address would have been so framed, as to leave heartburnings nowhere:" and again, "We do not perceive that your instructions have imposed upon you the extreme glow of some parts of your address." He subsequently remarked, "You have it still in charge to cultivate the French republic with zeal, but without any unnecessary eclat."

But the Minister is obnoxious to a more serious reprehension in a subsequent part of the letter. He had declared, in his memorial to the Committee of Public Safety of the third of September, 1794, that he had not been instructed to complain of the decree which violated the twenty-third and twenty-fourth articles of the treaty between France and the United States. "On the conMonroe's View, page 23.

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