« PreviousContinue »
TO JAMES MADISON.
PHILADELPHIA, April 12, 1798. DEAR SIR,-I wrote you two letters on the 5th and 6th instant; since which I have received yours of the 2d. I send you, in a separate package, the instructions to our Envoys and their communications. You will find that my representation of their contents from memory, was substantially just. The public mind appears still in a state of astonishment. There never was a moment in which the aid of an able pen was so important to place things in their just attitude. On this depend the inchoate movement in the eastern mind, and the fate of the elections in that quarter, now beginning and to continue through the summer. I would not propose to you such a task on any ordinary occasion. But be assured that a well-digested analysis of these papers would now decide the future turn of things, which are at this moment on the creen. The merchants here are meeting under the auspices of Fitzsimmons, to address the President and approve his propositions. Nothing will be spared on that side. Sprigg's first resolution against the expediency of war, proper at the time it was moved, is now postponed as improper, because to declare that, after we have understood it has been proposed to us to try peace, would imply an acquiescence under that proposition. All, therefore, which the advocates of peace can now attempt, is to prevent war measures externally, consenting to every rational measure of internal defence and preparation. Great expenses will be incurred; and it will be left to those whose measures render them necessary, to provide to meet them They already talk of stopping all payments of interest, and of a land tax. These will probably not be opposed. The only question will be, how to modify the land tax. On this there may be a great diversity of sentiment. One party will want to make it a new source of patronage and expense. If this business is taken up, it will lengthen our session. We had pretty generally, till now, fixed on the beginning of May for adjournment. I
shall return by my usual routes, and not by the eastern shore, on account of the advance of the season. Friendly salutations to Mrs. Madison and yourself. Adieu.
TO P. CARR.
PHILADELPHIA, April 12, 1798.
As the instruction to our Envoys and their communications have excited a great deal of curiosity, I enclose you a copy. You will perceive that they have been assailed by swindlers, whether with or without the participation of Talleyrand is not very apparent. The known corruption of his character renders it very possible he may have intended to share largely in the £50,000 demanded. But that the Directory know anything of it is neither proved nor probable. On the contrary, when the Portuguese ambassador yielded to like attempts of swindlers, the conduct of the Directory in imprisoning him for an attempt at corruption, as well as their general conduct really magnanimous, places them above suspicion. It is pretty evident that Mr. A.'s speech is in truth the only obstacle to negotiation. That humiliating disavowals of that are demanded as a preliminary, or as a commutation for that a heavy sum of money, about a million sterling. This obstacle removed, they seem not to object to an arrangement of all differences, and even to settle and acknowledge themselves debtors for spoliations. Nor does it seem that negotiation is at an end, as the President's message says, but that it is in its commencement only. The instructions comply with the wishes expressed in debate in the May session to place France on as good footing as England, and not to make a sine qua non of the indemnification for spoliation; but they declare the war in which France is engaged is not a defensive one, they reject the naturalization of French ships, that is to say the exchange of naturalization which France had formerly proposed to us, and which would lay open to us the unrestrained trade of her West Indies and all her other possessions; they declare the 10th
article of the British treaty, against sequestering debts, n.oney in the funds, bank stock, &c., to be founded in morality, and therefore of perpetual obligation, and some other heterodoxies.
You will have seen in the newspapers some resolutions proposed by Mr. Sprigg, the first of which was, that it was inexpedient under existing circumstances to resort to war with France. Whether this could have been carried before is doubtful, but since it is known that a sum of money has been demanded, it is thought that this resolution, were it now to be passed, would imply a willingness to avoid war even by purchasing peace. It is therefore postponed. The peace party will agree to all reasonable measures of internal defence, but oppose all external preparations. Though it is evident that these communications do not present one motive the more for going to war, yet it may be doubted whether we are strong enough to keep within the defensive line. It is thought the expenses contemplated will render a land tax necessary before we separate. If so, it will lengthen the session. The first impressions from these communications are disagreeable; but their ultimate effect on the public mind will not be favorable to the war party. They may have some effect in the first moment in stopping the movement in the Eastern States, which were on the creen, and were running into town meetings, yet it is believed this will be momentary only, and will be over before their elections. Considerable expectations were formed of changes in the Eastern delegations favorable to the Whig interest. Present my best respects to Mrs. Carr, and accept yourself assurance of affectionate esteem.
TO JAMES MADISON.
PHILADELPHIA, April 26, 1798.
The bill for the naval armament (twelve vessels) passed by a majority of about four to three in the House of Representatives;
all restrictions on the objects for which the vessels should be used were struck out. The bill for establishing a department of Secre、 tary of the Navy was tried yesterday, on its passage to the third reading, and prevailed by forty-seven against forty-one. It wil! be read the third time to-day. The provisional army of twentythousand men will meet some difficulty. It would surely be rejected if our members were all here. Giles, Clopton, Cabell and Nicholas have gone, and Clay goes to-morrow. He received here news of the death of his wife. Parker has completely gone over to the war party. In this state of things they will carry what they please. One of the war party, in a fit of unguarded passion, declared sometime ago they would pass a citizen bill, an alien bill, and a sedition bill; accordingly, some days ago, Coit laid a motion on the table of the House of Representatives for modifying the citizen law. Their threats pointed at Gallatin, and it is believed they will endeavor to reach him by this bill. Yesterday Mr. Hillhouse laid on the table of the Senate a motion for giving power to send away suspected aliens. This is understood to be meant for Volney and Collot. But it will not stop there when it gets into a course of execution. There is now only wanting, to accomplish the whole declaration before mentioned, a sedition bill, which we shall certainly soon see proposed. The object of that, is the suppression of the Whig presses. Bache's has been particularly named. That paper and also Carey's totter for want of subscriptions. We should really exert ourselves to procure them, for if these papers fall, republicanism will be entirely brow beaten. Carey's paper comes out three times a week, at five dollars. The meeting of the people which was called at New York, did nothing. It was found that the majority would be against the address. They therefore chose to circulate it individually. The committee of Ways and Means have voted a land tax. An additional tax on salt will certainly be proposed in the House, and probably prevail to some degree. The stoppage of interest on the public debt will also, perhaps, be proposed, but not with effect. In the meantime, that paper cannot be sold. Hamilton is coming on as Senator from New York. There have
been so much contrivance and combination in that, as .o show there is some great object in hand. Troup, the district judge of New York, resigns towards the close of the session of their Assembly. The appointment of Mr. Hobart, then Senator, to succeed Troup, is not made by the President till after the Assembly had risen. Otherwise, they would have chosen the Senator in place of Hobart. Jay then names Hamilton, Senator, but not till a day or two before his own election as Governor was to come on, lest the unpopularity of the nomination should be in time to effect his own election. We shall see in what all this is to end; but surely in something. The popular movement in the eastern States is checked, as we expected, and war addresses are showering in from New Jersey and the great trading towns. However, we still trust that a nearer view of war and a land tax will oblige the great mass of the people to attend. At present, the war hawks talk of septembrizing, deportation, and the examples for quelling sedition set by the French executive. All the firmness of the human mind is now in a state of requisition. Salutations to Mrs. Madison; and to yourself, friendship and
TO JAMES MADISON.
PHILADELPHIA, May 3, 1798.
DEAR SIR, I Wrote you last on the 26th; since which yours of the 22d of April has been received, acknowledging mine of the 12th; so that all appear to have been received to that date. The spirit kindled up in the towns is wonderful. These and New Jersey are pouring in their addresses, offering life and fortune. Even these addresses are not the worst things. For indiscreet declarations and expressions of passion may be pardoned to a multitude acting from the impulse of the moment. But we cannot expect a foreign nation to show that apathy to the answers of the President, which are more thrasonic than the addresses. Whatever chance for peace might have been left us