Page images
PDF
EPUB

the necessary explanations. We appointed to meet him the evening of the 20th at seven o'clock, in General Marshall's room. At seven M. Y and M. X entered. . . . M. Y stated to us explicitly and repeatedly that he was clothed with no authority, that he was not a diplomatic character, that he was only the friend of M. Talleyrand, and trusted by him.... He then took out of his pocket a French translation of the President's speech, the parts of which, objected to by the Directory were marked. . . . On reading the speech, M. Y dilated very much upon the keenness of the resentment that it had produced, and expatiated largely on the satisfaction he said was indispensably necessary as a preliminary to negotiation. "But," said he, "Gentlemen, I will not disguise from you that, this satisfaction being made, the essential part of the treaty remains to be adjusted; il faut de l'argent - il faut beaucoup d'argent;" you must pay money, you must pay a great deal of money. He spoke much of the force, the honor, and the jealous republican pride of France; and represented to us strongly the advantage we should derive from the neutrality thus to be purchased. He said that the receipt of the money might be so disguised as to prevent its being considered a breach of neutrality by England, and thus save us from being embroiled with that Power. . . . These propositions being considered . . . M. Talleyrand trusted that, by his influence with the Directory, he could prevail on the Government to receive us. . .

The nature of the above communication will evince the necessity of secrecy; and we have promised Messrs. X and Y that their names shall in no event be made public.

We have the honor to be etc.,

C. C. Pinckney

J. Marshall

E. Gerry

for peace,

M. Talleyrand advised Pinckney and Marshall to "quit 50. A plea the territory of the French Republic" and let him carry October 2, on negotiations with Gerry (the democratic member of the 1798 commission) alone. When Adams heard of this high- [171] handed "diplomacy," he wrote to Congress (June 21,

1798): "I will never send another Minister to France without assurances that he will be received, respected, and honored as the representative of a great, free, powerful, and independent nation." Preparations for war were made, and George Washington was appointed commander of the army. Joel Barlow, who had gone to Paris ten years earlier as agent for the Ohio Land Company (see p. 186 above), wrote the following letter to Washington in the vain attempt to stave off the war :

SIR,

Paris, 24 October, 1798

On hearing of your nomination, for the second time, as commander in chief of the American armies, I rejoice at it; not because I believe that the war which this nomination contemplates is yet unavoidable, and that it will furnish an occasion for the further display of your military talents; but because it may enable you to exert your influence to a greater effect in preventing the war. . . .

Perhaps few men who cannot pretend to have been in the secrets of either government, are in a better situation than myself to judge of the motives of both; to assign the true causes of their unhappy misunderstanding; or to appreciate their present dispositions, pretensions, and wishes. I am certain no one labors more sincerely for the restoration of harmony, on terms honorable to the United States, and advantageous to the cause of liberty.

I will not in this place go over the history of past transactions. It would be of little use. The object is to seize the malady in its present state, and try to arrest its progress. The dispute at this moment may be characterized simply and literally a misunderstanding. I cannot persuade myself to give it a harsher name, as it applies to either government. It is clear that neither of them has an interest in going to war with the other; and I am convinced that neither of them has the inclination. . . .

But each government . . . believes the other determined on war, and ascribes all its conduct to a deep-rooted hostility. . . .

By what fatality is it that a calamity so dreadful is to be rendered inevitable because it is thought so? Both governments have tongues, and both have ears. Why will they not speak? Why will they not listen? The causes that have hitherto prevented them are not difficult to assign. . . . But I will avoid speaking of any past provocations on either side. The point which I wish to establish in your mind is, that the French Directory is at present sincerely desirous of restoring harmony between this country and the United States, on terms advantageous to both parties. . .

You will judge whether it does not comport with the independence of the United States, and the dignity of their government, to send another minister, to form new treaties with the French Republic. . . .

Were I writing to a young general, whose name was yet to be created, I might deem it vain to ask him to stifle in its birth a war on which he had founded his hopes of future honors. But you, Sir, having already earned and acquired all that can render a man great and happy, can surely have no object of ambition, but to render your country so. To engage your influence in favor of a new attempt at negotiation, before you draw your sword, I thought it only necessary to convince you that such attempt would be well received here, and probably attended with success.

I am not accustomed to interpose my advice in the administration of any country; and should not have done it now, did I not believe it my duty, as a citizen of my own and a friend to all others. I see two great nations rushing on each other's bayonettes, without any cause of contention but a misunderstanding. I shudder at the prospect, and wish to throw myself between the vans, and suspend the onset, till a word of explanation can pass.

Joel Barlow

The strife between Federalists and Republicans broke 51. The Kentucky and up Washington's cabinet, divided the country into bitterly Virginia reshostile factions, and culminated in the eventful year 1798, olutions, when the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, [172]

1798-1799

and the Republicans replied by the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, drawn up by Jefferson and Madison respectively. Both sets of resolutions were sent to the other states of the Union for approval; but not one of the seven replies received was favorable. Kentucky then contented herself by reaffirming her position, with the addition of a new resolution (November 22, 1799), while Virginia simply referred the matter to a committee. The Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and the Kentucky Resolution of 1799 follow:

In the House of Delegates
Friday, December 21, 1798

[1] Resolved, That the General Assembly of Virginia doth unequivocally express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this State, against every aggression foreign or domestic; and that they will support the Government of the United States in all measures warranted by the former.

[2.] That this Assembly most solemnly declares a warm attachment to the Union of the States, to maintain which it pledges all its powers; and that, for this end, it is their duty to watch over and oppose every infraction of those principles which constitute the only basis of that Union, because a faithful observance of them can alone secure its existence and the public happiness.

[3] That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare that it views the powers of the Federal Government as resulting from the compact to which the States are parties, as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting that compact . . . and that, in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers not granted by the said compact, the States, who are parties thereto, have the right and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil. . . .

[4] That the General Assembly doth also express its deep regret, that a spirit has in sundry instances been manifested by

the Federal Government to enlarge its powers by forced constructions of the constitutional charter which defines them . . . and so to consolidate the States, by degrees, into one sovereignty, the obvious tendency and the inevitable result of which would be to transform the present republican system of the United States into an absolute, or, at best, a mixed monarchy.

[5] That the General Assembly doth particularly protest against the palpable and alarming infractions of the Constitution in the two late cases of the "Alien and Sedition Acts," passed at the last session of Congress; the first of which exercises a power nowhere delegated to the Federal Government ... and the other of which acts exercises, in like manner, a power not delegated by the Constitution, but, on the contrary, expressly and positively forbidden by one of the amendments thereto a power which more than any other, ought to produce universal alarm, because it is levelled against the right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon [Amd't I]. . . .

...

[6.] That this State having by its Convention which ratified the Federal Constitution expressly declared that, among other essential rights, "the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained, or modified by any authority of the United States," . . . it would mark a reproachful inconsistency and criminal degeneracy, if an indifference were now shown to the palpable violation of one of the rights thus declared. . . .

[7] That the good people of this Commonwealth having ever felt and continuing to feel the most sincere affection for their bretheren of the other States. . . the General Assembly doth solemnly appeal to the like dispositions of the other States, in confidence that they will concur with this Commonwealth in declaring, as it does hereby declare, that the acts aforesaid are unconstitutional; and that the necessary and proper measures will be taken by each for coöperating with this State, in maintaining unimpaired the authorities, rights, and liberties reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

[8.] That the Governor be desired to transmit a copy of the foregoing resolutions to the Executive authority of each of the

« PreviousContinue »