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G. Washington again unanimously elected president.... War between Great Britain and France... Queries put by the president to his cabinet in relation to the conduct proper to be adopted by the American government in consequence of this event....Proclamation of neutrality....Arrival of Mr. Genet as minister from France...His conduct....Illegal proceedings of the French cruisers....Opinions of the cabinet in relation thereto... State of parties....Democratic societies formed.. .Genet calculates upon the partialities of the American people for France, and openly insults their government.... Rules laid down by the executive in relation to the powers at war within the ports of the United States ....The president requests the recall of Genet.... British order of 1793.... Decree of the national convention relative to neutral commerce.
THE term for which the president and vice president had been elected being to expire on the third of March, the attention of the public had been particularly directed to the choice of persons who should fill those high offices for the ensuing four years. Respecting the president, but one opinion prevailed. From various motives, all parties concurred in the earnest desire that the present chief magistrate would continue to afford his services to his country. Yielding to the weight of the representations made to him from various quarters, general Washington had been prevailed upon to withhold a declaration he had at one time proposed to make of his determination to retire from the toils of political life.
Respecting the person who should fill the office CHAP. VI, of vice president, the public was divided. The 1793. profound statesman who had been called to the duties of that station had drawn upon himself a great degree of obloquy, by some political tracts in which he had laboured to maintain the proposition, that a balance in government was essential to the preservation of liberty. In these disquisitions, he was supposed by his opponents to have discovered sentiments not unfavourable to distinct orders in society; and although he had spoken highly of the constitution of the United States, it was imagined that his balance could be maintained only by hereditary classes. He was also understood to be friendly to the system of finance which had been adopted, and he was believed to be among the few who questioned the durability of the French republic. His great services, and acknowledged virtues were therefore disregarded, and a competitor was sought for among those who had distinguished themselves in the opposition. That the choice would have fallen upon Mr. Jefferson cannot be questioned, had not the constitution imposed a restriction on the power of the electors which would necessarily deprive him of the vote to be given by Virginia. The regulation was positive, that of the two persons voted for, one at least should not be an inhabitant of the same state with the particular electoral body. General Washington and Mr. Jefferson were both inhabitants of Virginia. It was therefore necessary to designate some other character to be held up in opposition to Mr. Adams, and George
CHAP. VI Clinton the governor of New York was selected 1793. for this purpose.
Throughout the war of the revolution, this gentleman had filled the office of chief magistrate of his native state; and, under circumstances of real difficulty, had discharged its duties with a courage and an energy which secured the esteem of the commander in chief, and gave him a fair claim to the favour of his country. Embracing afterwards with ardour the system of state supremacy, he had contributed greatly to the rejection of the resolutions for investing congress with the power of collecting an impost on imported goods, and had been conspicuous for his determined opposition to the adoption of the constitution of the United States. With respect to the measures of the government, his sentiments were understood to concur with those of the minority, and it was not doubted that they would give him their cordial support.
Both parties seemed confident in their strength, and by both the utmost exertions were made. G. Washing On opening the ballots in the senate chamber, unanimously it appeared that the unanimous suffrage of his
country had been once more conferred on general Washington, and that Mr. Adams had received a plurality of the votes.
The unceasing endeavours of the executive to terminate the Indian war by a treaty had at length succeeded with the savages of the Wabash; and through the intervention of the Six Nations, those of the Miamis had also been induced to consent to a conference to be held in the course of the ensuing spring. The probability was against a
successful issue to this negotiation. It was un. CHAP. VI. derstood that the Indians designed to contend for 1793. the Ohio as a boundary, and that they insisted on the presence of British commissioners at the treaty. Yet, in the hope that the pacific temper of America might possibly be met by suitable dispositions on the part of these savages, all offensive operations were still further suspended; but, in the mean time, the recruiting business was indefatigably urged, and the most assiduous attention was paid to the discipline of the troops. On their part, the Indians did not entirely abstain from hostilities; and the discontents of the western people were in no small degree increased by this temporary prohibition of all incursions into the country of their enemy. In Georgia, where a great degree of ill temper respecting the treaty with the Creeks continued to prevail, a desire to commence hostilities against the southern Indians had been unequivocally manifested, and the restraints imposed by the government on this desire increased the irritation against the administration, which had been uniformly manifested by that state, since the second session of the first congress.
The Indian war, though of real importance, was becoming an object of secondary magnitude. The critical and irritable state of things in France began so materially to affect the United States as to require an exertion of all the prudence and all the firmness of the government. The 10th* of
The day on which the palace of the Thuilleries was stormed and the royal government subverted.
CHAP. VI. August 1792 was succeeded in that nation by such a state of anarchy, and by scenes of so much blood and horror; the nation was understood to be so divided with respect to its future course; and the republican party was threatened by such a formidable external force; that there was much reason to doubt whether the fallen monarch would be finally deposed, or re-instated with a greater degree of splendour and power than the constitution just laid in ruins had assigned to him. That in the latter event any partialities which, in the interim, might be manifested towards the intermediate possessors of authority, would be recol. lected with indignation, could not be questioned by an attentive observer of the vindictive spirit of parties ;...a spirit which the deeply tragic scenes lately exhibited could not fail to work up to its highest possible pitch. Uninstructed, in a situation which by his government had been totally unlooked for, the American minister at Paris sought to pursue a circumspect line of conduct which should in no wise commit the United States. Disappointed at the coldness which that system required, the executive council of France communicated the dissatisfaction it occasioned to their minister at Philadelphia. At the same time Mr. Morris made full representations of every transaction to his government, and requested explicit instructions for the regulation of his future conduct.
The American administration entertained no doubt of the propriety of recognizing the existing authority of France, whatever form it might as