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THE CONVENTION MEETS.

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ception. This could not be misinterpreted by the originators of the plan, and could have been just as little disregarded, even if they had thrown all other reasons to the wind. Nothing had happened which could have nerved them to the point of suddenly cutting themselves off from any way of retreat. All the reasons drawn from the inner and outer facts of the case led much more to the conclusion that the best course was to really entertain no design except the one that had been stated. Awaiting the further course of events, men wished to try to unite upon a common programme and-whatever might be decided upon-make a stronger impression upon the dominant party by harmonious action. The method and way in which the convention went to work and the result which it brought about, are the practical confirmation of this view of the case.

Dec. 15, 1814, twenty-six delegates' met together at Hartford and began their deliberations with closed doors. If, as the Democrats wished to have it thought, a conspiracy was being worked up which aimed at the separation of the New England states from the Union, the sentence of death had already been passed upon the affair. A conspiracy which aims at the overthrow of a government is a chimera in the United States. And if the conspirators meet on a publicly appointed day, but exclude the public from their deliberations over the method of executing their project, the conspiracy becomes a complete absurdity. In this country thorough political changes can be effected only by the direct and energetic participation of the people, and the only way to make sure of this is to carry on a public and long-continuing agitation. As far as the Democrats feared in good faith a dissolution of the Union on account of the resolutions to be adopted in Hartford, they

'Three of them were irregular, two from New Hampshire and one from Vermont, who had been chosen by local conventions.

not only underestimated the attachment of the Federalists to the Union, but failed to appreciate how thoroughly the people were really pervaded by the democratic spirit.

The Democrats pleased themselves then and thereafter by roundly denying that they had nourished any fears whatever. Jefferson wrote, Feb. 15, 1815, to Lafayette: "But they [the British ministers] have hoped more in their [!] Hartford convention. . . The cement of this Union is in the heart-blood of every American. I do not believe that there is on earth. a government established on so immovable a basis. . . They [the members of the convention] have not been able to make themselves even a subject of conversation, either of public or private societies. A silent contempt has been the sole notice they excite."1 It is true that Jefferson had never feared that the Union would be brought to an end by the convention. But before Jackson's victory at New Orleans and before the receipt of the news of the signing of the treaty of Ghent, he would not have used such language. It corresponded with his character to blow a great blast of triumph, now that the convention, whatever significance it might have had for the moment, stood before the world as a wretched farce. It is, indeed, not difficult to obtain from his writings the proof that he had by no means such an unconditional trust in that "cement." Yet, whatever he might think, the asser

'Jefferson, Works, VI., pp. 425, 426. The passage left out in the text may show with what shallowness Jefferson judged the case: "Their [the English ministry's] fears of republican France being now done away, they are directed to republican America, and they are playing the same game for disorganization here which they played in your country. The Marats, the Dantons and Robespierres of Massachusetts, are in the same pay, under the same orders, and making the same efforts to anarchize us that their prototypes in France did there. I do not say that all who met in Hartford were under the same motives of money. Some of them are Outs and wish to be Ins; some the mere dupes of the agitators or of their own party passions, while the Maratists alone are in the real secret."

ANXIETY ABOUT THE CONVENTION.

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tion that the convention had not even become a subject of conversation, misrepresented the facts in a foolish way. As early as the spring of 1814, the position of the New England states excited serious apprehension even among the ambassadors to Europe, although the latter looked at things more clearly for not being exposed to the immediate influence of the daily squabbles and exaggerated descriptions of the press. As soon, then, as the three states which were represented in the convention took a position which must lead to a new phase of the struggle, the Democratic party began to hurl its anathemas against the "Jacobins" with threefold zeal. At the same time, it lavished loud. praise upon the noble community which (it said) was about to thrust the traitors into the abyss of eternal shame and political oblivion. From an easily intelligible policy, exaggeration was resorted to in both directions. If the student disregards these exaggerations, which pretty nearly balance each other, he still finds traces of more anxiety than was reasonable. This was even more true of the administration than of the press. The constitution did not. give the president the power to hinder the meeting of the convention. There was no cause for this, inasmuch as the delegates were only empowered by their respective legislatures to make proposals. It was also not easy to see how the twenty-six men could be able to surprise the gov ernment by suddenly lighting the torch of insurrection. Yet it was considered necessary to notify col. Jessup to] watch them carefully. The letters exchanged between Jessup and the president have unfortunately been in great part lost, but enough is known of them to prove that Madison took the matter very seriously. From Dec. 15, 1814, to Jan. 23, 1815, Jessup sent a daily report to the presi

1 Thus, for instance, Gallatin writes, April 22, 1814: "Above all, our own divisions and the hostile attitude of the eastern states give room to apprehend that a continuance of the war might prove vitally fatal to the United States." Priv. Cor. of H. Clay, I., p. 30.

dent. The letters were mostly sent in a private way and sometimes the colonel himself brought them to New York in order that they might not be intercepted. This precau tion was superfluous, indeed, inasmuch as the news to be sent was by no means of such an important nature. Jessup wrote from New Haven, on the day the convention met: "I am surprised how little interest [among the Federalists] the meeting excites."" Writing later from Hartford, he had only to announce that so far as he could learn, the convention kept strictly within the limits of the law.

If he nevertheless kept on sending his daily reports for fourteen days after the adjournment of the convention and spoke in them of "plans to destroy the government,” “attempts to gain possession of the public stores," etc., we may well infer that Madison did not share Jefferson's pretended view.

People in Washington and in the whole country were surprised, and, to speak truth, not merely pleasantly surprised, that the report of the convention, in which the results of its secret deliberations were summed up, was not a more revolutionary document. As affairs now began to shape themselves, the ruling party would have preferred a somewhat more decided manifesto in order to master the "conspiracy" with greater eclat. It was not contented with being able to punish it only by scorn and "contempt."

After a thorough recapitulation of the complaints so often discussed, the report recommends to the legislatures of the represented states certain measures for the removal of the most pressing hardships, suggests a series of amendments to the federal constitution, provides for the calling of a new convention in certain eventualities, and finally authorizes some of the delegates to again convoke the present convention. The report starts on the assumption

1

Ingersoll, Second War between the U. S. and Great Britain, II., p. 238. 2 Ingersoll, Second War between the U. S. and Great Britain, II., p. 225. The whole report is given in Niles' Reg., VII., pp. 305–313 and in Dwight's Hist. of the Hart. Con., pp. 352-379. Niles' Reg., VII., pp. 328

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REPORT OF THE CONVENTION.

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that a summary" removal of the evils complained of would be possible only by "direct and open resistance," since they had become a "system." The view had already struck root, that the final reasons for this were to be found

in "intrinsic and incurable defects in the constitution."// The delegates, however, did not consider this as yet sufficiently proved, but confessed their conviction that permanent help could be procured only by various amendments to the constitution. In their opinion, then, these formed the most important part of the report. Their substance was, in brief, as follows: Representation in the house should henceforth be based upon the free population alone; the president must not be eligible for re-election; state offices should be entrusted only to native-born citizens; embargoes should be limited to sixty days; and a vote of two-thirds of each house should be necessary for a prohibition of commercial intercourse, the admission of new states. into the Union, the authorization of hostilities (except in case of invasion) and a declaration of war.

It was not meant by the substitution of these constitutional changes for summary relief by direct and open resistance, that until their adoption or rejection the critical condition of affairs which had been brought about by the ignorance and the unconstitutional encroachments of the government should be quietly borne. The convention recommended the most energetic opposition to the following measures, already executed or projected by the federal authorities: Calling out the militia by the president without the co-operation of the state governments; the transfer of the command of the militia to officers of the regular army; the classification of the militia proposed by Monroe; the recruiting of the regular army "by a for

332. gives also the statistical lists contained in the report, and Dwight, pp. 383-398, prints the whole journal of the convention. The latter, however, is quite worthless, since it records only the meetings, adjournments, etc.

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