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CHAP. IV. It amounted to upwards of one hundred men 1791. among whom were nine officers. After an engage ment of extreme severity, the detachment rejoined the main army.
In his orders, and in his official letter, general Harmer, with what propriety it is not easy to discern, claimed the victory. He conceived, not entirely without reason, that a battle in which the Indians might lose a considerable number of men, would be fatal to them, although a still greater loss should be sustained by the Americans, because the savages did not possess a population from which they could replace the warriors who had fallen. The event, however, did not justify this opinion.
Having been censured by many, he requested a court martial, which, on a full examination of his conduct, acquitted him with honour.
After this action, the troops returned to fort Washington. That they were not harassed on their march, was stated by the general as conclusive testimony of the severe loss which the enemy had sustained.
The information respecting this expedition was quickly followed by intelligence stating the deplo. rable condition of the frontiers. An address from the representatives of all the counties of Kentucky, and those of Virginia bordering on the Ohio, was presented to the president, praying that the defence of the country might be committed to militia unmixed with regulars, and that they might immediately be drawn out to oppose the exulting foe. To this address, the president
gave a conciliatory answer, but he understood too CHAP. IV, well the nature of the service to yield to this 1791. application. Such were his communications to the legislature, that a regiment was added to the permanent military establishment, and he was authorized to cause a body of two thousand men, under the denomination of levies, to be raised for six months, and to appoint a major general, and a brigadier general, to continue in command so long as he should think their services necessary.
With the third of March 1791, terminated the first congress elected under the constitution of the United States. The party denominated federal having prevailed at the elections, a majority of the members were stedfast friends of the constitution, and were sincerely desirous of supporting a system they had themselves introduced, and on the preservation of which in full health and vigour, they firmly believed the happiness of their fellow citizens, and the respectability of the nation, greatly depended. To organize a government, to retrieve the national character, to establish a system of revenue, and to create public credit, were among the exalted and arduous duties which were imposed upon them by the political situation of their country. With persevering labour guided by no inconsiderable portion of virtue and intelligence, were these objects in a great degree accomplished. Out of the measures proposed for their attainment, questions alike intricate and interesting unavoidably arose. It is not in the nature of man to discuss such questions without strongly agitating the passions,
Adjournment of congress.
CHAP. IV. and exciting irritations which do not readily 1791. subside. Had it even been the happy and singular lot of America to see its national legislature assemble uninfluenced by those prejudices which grew out of the previous divisions of the country, yet the many delicate points which they were under the necessity of deciding, could not have failed to disturb this enviable state of harmony, and to mingle some share of party spirit with their deliberations. But when the actual state of the public mind was contemplated, and due weight was given to the important consideration that, at no very distant day, a successor to the present chief magistrate must be elected, it was still less to be hoped that the first congress could pass away without producing strong and permanent dispositions in parties to impute to each other designs unfriendly to the public happiness. As yet however, these imputations did not extend to the president. By all, his character was held sacred, and the purity of his motives admitted; nor did his influence appear to be impaired. Some divisions were understood to have found their way into the cabinet. It was insinuated that between the secretary of state and the gentleman who was at the head of the treasury, very serious differences had arisen; but those high personages were believed to be equally attached to the president, who was not suspected of undue partiality to either of them. If his assent to the bill for incorporating the national bank produced discontent, the opponents of that measure seemed disposed to ascribe his conduct in that instance to
I his judgment, rather than to any prepossession in CHAP. IV. favour of the party by whom it was carried. The 1791. opposition, therefore, in congress, to the measures of the government, seemed to be levelled at the secretary of the treasury, and at the northern members by whom those measures were generally supported, not at the president by whom they were approved. By taking this direction, it made its way into the public mind without being encountered by that devoted affection which a great majority of the people felt for the chief magistrate of the union. In the mean time, the national prosperity was in a state of rapid progression; and the government was gaining, though slowly, in the public opinion. But in several of the state assemblies, especially in the southern division of the continent, serious evidences of dissatisfaction were exhibited, which demonstrated the jealousy with which the local sovereignties contemplated the powers exercised by the federal legislature.
General St. Clair appointed com mander
in chief of
General St. Clair appointed commander in chief of the army ....The president makes a tour through the southern states ....Meeting of congress....President's speech....Debate on the bill for apportioning representatives among the people of the states according to the first enumeration"... Militia law....Defeat of St. Clair....Opposition to the increase of the army....Report of the secretary of the treasury for raising additional supplies....Congress ad journs....Strictures on the conduct of administration, with a view of parties.... Disagreement between the secretaries of state and treasury...Letters from G. Washington on this subject....Opposition to the excise law....President's proclamation....Insurrection and massacre in the island of St. Domingo....General Wayne appointed to the com mand of the army....Meeting of congress....President's speech....Resolutions implicating the secretary of the treasury, rejected... Congress adjourns....Progress of the French revolution, and its effects on parties in the United States.
MORE ample means for the protection of the frontiers having been placed by congress in the hands of the executive, the immediate attention of the president was directed to this interesting object. The act received his assent on the last day of the session, and the attendance of the senate, on the succeeding day, was requested for the purpose of obtaining their sanction to various appointments, but more especially committing to their consideration his nominations to military offices.
Major general Arthur St. Clair, governor of the territory northwest of the Ohio, was appointed