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was resolved to make another and a' more solemn experiment,
. " This measure (with some objections to the detail) was, approved by all parties; by the Anti-federalists, because they thought no evil so great as the rupture with France ; by the Federalists, because it was their system to avoid war with every power, if it could be done without the sacrifice of essential interests or absolute humiliation.
“ Even such of then who conceived that the insults of the French government, and the manifestation of its ill-will, had already gone far enough to call for measures of vigour; perceiving that the nation was not generally penetrated with the same conviction, and would not support with zeal measures of that nature, unless their necessity was rendered still more apparent, acquiesced in the expediency of another mission. They hoped that it would serve either to compose the differences which en ited, or to make the necessity of resistance to the violence of France, palpable to every good citizen.
- The expediency of the step was suggested to Mr. Adams, through a federal channel, a considerable time before he determined to take it. He hesitated whether it could be done after the rejection of General Pinckney, without pational debasement. The doubt was an honourable one; it was afterwards very properly surrendered 10 the cogent reasons which pleaded for a further experiment.
The event of this experiment is fresh in our recollection, Our
envoys, like our minister, were rejected. Tribute was demanded as a preliminary to negotiation. To their immortal honour, though France at the time was proudly triumphant, they repelled the disgraceful pretension. Americans will never forget that General Pinckney was a member, and an efficient member, of this commission.
“ This conduct of the French government, in which it is difficult to say, whether despotic insolence or unblushing corruption was most prominent, electrified the American people, with a becoming indignation. In vain ihe partisans of France aftempted to extenuate. The public voice was distinct and audible. The nation, disdaining so foul an overture, was ready to encounter the worst consequences of resistance.
“ Without imitating the flatterers of Mr. Adans, who, in derogation from the intrinsic force of circumstances, and from the magnanimity of the nation, ascribe to him the whole merits of producing the spirit which appeared in the community, it shall with cheerfulness be acknowledged, that he took upon the occasion a manly and courageous lead-that he did all in . his power to rouse the pride of the nation-to inspire it with a just sense of the injuries and outrages which it had experienced, and to dispose it to a firm and magnanimous resistance; and that his efforts contributed materially to the end.
** The friends of the government were not agreed as to ulterior measures. Sonie were for immediate and unqualified war; others for a more mitigated course ; thei dissolution of treaties, preparation of force by land and sea, partial hostilities of a defensive tendency; leaving to France the option of seeking accommodation, or proceeding to open war. The latter course prevailed.
Though not as bold and energetic as the other; yet, considering the prosperous state of French 'affairs, when it was adopted, and how many pations had been appalled and pros. trated by the French power--the conduct pursued bore suthciently the marks of courage and elevation to raise the national character to an exalted height throughout Europe.
“ Much is it to be deplored that we should have been precipitated from this proud eminence without necessity, without temptation.
“ The latter conduct of the President forms a painful contrast to his conimencement. Its effects have been directly the reverse. It has sunk the tone of the public inind it has impaired the confidence of the friends of the government in the Executive Chief-it bas distracted public opinion-it has nerved the public councils—it has sown the seeds of discord at home, and lowered the reputation of the government abroad. The circumstances which preceded, aggravate the disagreeableness of the results. They prove that the injudicious things which have been acted, were not e effects of any regular plan, but the fortuitous emanations of momentary impulses.
“The session, which ensued the promulgation of the dispatches of our commissioners, was about to commence, Mr. Adams arrived, at Philadelphia from bis seat at Quincey. The tone of his mind seemed to have been raised, rather than depressed.
“ It was suggested to him, that it might be expedient to ivsest in his speech of Congress, a sentiment of this import : That after the repeatedly rejected advances of this country, its dignity required that it should be left with France in future to make the first overture; that if, desirous of reconciliation, she should evince the disposition by sending a minister to this government, he would be received with the respect due to his character, and treated with in the frankness of a sincere desire of accommodation.
“ The suggestion was seceived in a manner both indignant and intemperate.
“ Mr. Adams declared as a sentiment, which he had adopted on mature reflection :- -Tbat if I'rance should senit a Minister to-morrow, he would order bim back the day after.
“ So imprudent an idea was easily refuted. Little argument was requisite to shew that by a similar system of retaliation, when one government in a particular instance had. refused the
envoy of another, nations might entail upon each other per. petual hostility; mutually barring the avenues of explanation.
“ In less than forty-eight hours from this extraordinary sally, the mind of Mr. Adams underwent a total reyolotion. He resolved pot only to insert in his speech the sentiment which had been proposed to him, but to go fartber, and to declare, tbat if France would
give explicit assurances of receiving 4 Minister from tbis country, with due respect, be would send one.
" In vain was this exteosion of the sentiment opposed by all his ininisters, as being equally incompatible with good policy, and with the dignity of the nation-be abstinately persisted, and the pernicious declaration was introduced."
But the still more inconsistent conduct of Mr. Adams, in his subsequent nomination of another supplicating embassy to the tyrants of France is ą subject of severer reprobation.
* The French Minister for Foreign Relations, through the French Diplomatic Agent at the Hague, had opened a communication with Mr. Murray, our Resident there, for the purpose of reviving negotiations between the two countries. In this manner, assurances were given that France was disposed to treat, and that a minister from us would be received and accredited. But they were accompanied with intimations of the characters proper to be employed, and who would be likely to succeed; which was exceptionable, both as it savored pf the pretension (justly censured by the President himself) of prescribing to other goverpments how they were to manage their own affairs; and as it might, according to eircumstances, be construed into a tacit condition of the promişe to receive a minister. Overtures so circuitous and informal, through a person who was not the regular organ of the French government for making them, to a person who was not the regular organ of the American government for receiving them, might be a very fit mode of preparing the way for the like overtures in a more aythentic and obligatoļy shape : but they were ą very inadequate basis for the institution of a new mission.
- When the President pledged himself in his speech to send a minister, if satisfactory assurances of a proper réception were given, he must have been understood to mean such as were direct and official, not such as were both informal and destitute of a competent sanction.
“ Yet upon this loose and vague foundation, Mr. Adams precipitately nominated Mr. Murray as Envoy to the French Republic, without previous consultation with any of his minişters. The nomination itself was to each of them, even to
the Secretary of State, his constitutional counsellor, in similar affairs, the first notice of the proje&t.
“ Thus was the measure wrong, both as to mode and substance.
“ Ą President is not bound to conform to the advice of his ministers. He is even under no positive injunction to ask of require it. But the constitution presumes that he will consult them; and the genius of our government and the public good recommend the practice. “ As the President nominates his ministers, and may
dis, place them when he pleases, it must be his own fault if he be not surrounded by men, who for ability and integrity deserve his confidence. And if his ministers are of this character, the consulting of them will always be likely to be useful to him and to the state. Let it even be supposed that he is a man of talents superior to the collected talents of all his ministers (which can seldom happen, as the world has seen but few Predericks), he may, nevertheless, often assist his judgment by a comparison and collision of ideas. The greatest genius, burried away by the rapidity of its own conceptions, will occasionally overlook obstacles which ordinary and more phlegmatic men will discover, and which, when presented to his consideration, will be thought by himself decisive objections to his plans.
" When, unhappily, an ordinary man dreams himself to be a Frederick, and through vanity refrains from counselling with his constitutional advisers, he is very apt to fall into the hands of miserable intriguers, with whom his self-love is more at ease, and who without difficulty slide into his confidence, and, by flattery, govern him.
“ The ablest men may profit by advice. Inferior men can. not dispepse with it; and if they do not get it through legitimate channels, it will find its way to them, through such as are clandestine and impure.
« Very different from the practice of Mr. Adams was that of the modest and sage Washington. He consulted much, pondered much, resolved slowly, resolved surely.
" And as surely, Mr. Adams might have benefited by the advice of his ministers.
“ The stately system of not consulting ministers is likely to have a further disadvantage. It will tend to exclude from places of primary trust, the men most fit to occupy them.
« Few aod feeble are the interested indącements to acceptą place in our administration. Far from being lucrative, there is not one which will not involve pecuniary sacrifice to every bonést man of preeminent talents. And has not experience shewo, that he must be fortunate indeed, it even the successful execution of his task can secure to him consideration and fame? Of a large harvest of obloquy he is sure.
“ If excluded from the coupsels of the Exccutive Chief, his office must become truly insignificant. What able and vir guous map will long consent to be so miserable a pageant!.
Eyery thing that tends to banish from the administration able men, tends to diminish the chances of able counsels. The probable operation of a system of this kind, must be to consign places of the highest trust to incapable honest men, whose in: ducement will be a livelihood, or to capable dishonest men, who will seek indirect indemnifications for the deficiency of direct and fair inducements,
“ The precipitate nomination of Mr. Murray, brought Mr. Adams in an aukward predicamente
“ He found it necessary to change his plan in its progress, and instead of one to nominate three envoys, and to superadd a promise, that, though appointed, they should not leave the United States till further and more perfect assurances were given by the French government,
This remodification of the measure was a virtual aça, knowledgment that it had been premature.' How unseemly was this fuduation in the Executive Chief. It argued rither instability of views, on want of sufficient consideration before hand. The one or the other, in an affair of so great moment, is a serious reproach.
“ Auditional and more competent assurances were received; but before the envoys departed, intelligence arrived of a new revolution in the French-government which, in violation of the constitution, bad expelled two of the Directory.
Another 'revolution; another, constitution overthrown: surely bere was reason for a pause, at least till it was ascer, tained that the new Directory would adhere to the engage ment of its predecessors, and would not send back our envoys with disgrace.
". In the then posture of French affairs, which externally as well as internally, were unprosperous, a pause was every way prudent. The recent revolution was a valid motive for it.is
“ Definitive compacts between nations, called real treaties, are binding, notwithstanding revolutions of governments. But to apply the maxim 10 ministerial acts, preparatory, only to negotiation, is to extend it 100 far; to apply it to such acts of an unstable revolutionary government (like ibat of France al that time) is to abuse it.
Had any policy of the moment demanded it, it would baie been pot at all surprising to have seen
the new Directory disavowing the assurance which had been given, and imputing it as a crine to ibe 'Ex-Directors, on the prefence that they had prostrated the dignity of the republic by courting the reMwal of negotiation with a government, which had so grossly insulted it,