Page images

ing undertaken to assure Murray that whatever Plenipotentiary we might send to France to negotiate differences, should be received with the respect due to the representative of a free inde. pendent and powerful nation, and directing him to prevail on Murray to transmit these assurances to his government. In consequence of this, a nomination of Mr. Murray, minister Plenipotentiary to the French republic, was yesterday sent to the Senate. This renders their efforts for war desperate, and silences all further denials of the sincerity of the French government. I send you extracts from these proceedings for your more special information. I shall leave this the 2d day of March. Accept my affectionate salutations. Adieu.

P. S. I should have mentioned that a nomination is before the Senate of a consul general to St. Domingo. It is understood *hat he will present himself to Toussaint, and is, in fact, our ninister to him.

(I+This is upon the margin of this letter.)

The face they will put on this business is, that they have frightened France into a respectful treatment. Whereas, in truth, France has been sensible that her measures to prevent the scandalous spectacle of war between the two republics, from the known impossibility of our injuring her, would not be imputed to her as a humiliation.




* On politics I must write sparingly, lest it should fall into the hands of persons who do not love either you or me. The wonderful irritation produced in the minds of our citizens by the X. Y. Z. story, has in a great measure subsided. They begin to suspect and to see it coolly in its true light. Mr. Gerry's communications, with other information, prove to them that

[ocr errors]

France is sincere in her wishes for reconciliation, and a recent proposition from that country, through Mr. Murray, puts the matter out of doubt. What course the government will pursue, I know not. But if we are left in peace, I have no doubt the wonderful turn in the public opinion now manifestly taking place and rapidly increasing, will, in the course of this summer, become so universal and so weighty, that friendship abroad and freedom at home will be firmly established by the influence and constitutional powers of the people at large. If we are forced into war, we must give up political differences of opinion, and unite as one man to defend our country. But whether at the close of such a war, we should be as free as we are now, God knows. In fine, if war takes place, republicanism has everything to fear; if peace, be assured that your forebodings and my alarms will prove vain; and that the spirit of our citizens now rising as rapidly as it was then running crazy, and rising with a strength and majesty which show the loveliness of freedom, will make this government in practice, what it is in principle, a model for the protection of man in a state of freedom and order. May heaven have in store for your country a restoration of these blessings, and you be destined as the instrument it will use for that purpose. But if this be forbidden by fate, I hope we shall be able to preserve here an asylum where your love of liberty and disinterested patriotism will be forever protected and honored, and where you will find, in the hearts of the American people, a good portion of that esteem and affection which glow in the bosom of the friend who writes this; and who, with sincere prayers for your health, happiness and success, and cordial salutations, bids you, for this time, adieu.

[ocr errors]


PHILADELPHIA, February 23, 1799. DEAR SIR-I have received with great pleasure your favor on the subject of the steam engine. Though deterred by the comEnglish against the French. You have seen that the Directory had published an arret declaring they would treat as pirates any neutrals they should take in the ships of their enemies. The President communicated this to Congress as soon as he received it.. A bill was brought into Senate reciting that arret, and authorizing retaliation. The President received information almost in the same instant that the Directory had suspended the arret (which fact was privately declared by the Secretary of State to two of the Senate), and, though it was known we were passing an act founded on that arret, yet the President has never communicated the suspension. However the Senate, informed indirectly of the fact, still passed the act yesterday, an hour after we had heard of the return of our vessel and crew before mentioned. It is acknowledged on all hands, and declared by the insurance companies that the British depredations during the last six months have greatly exceeded the French, yet not a word is said about it officially. However, all these things are working

, on the public mind. They are getting back to the point where they were when the X. Y. Z. story was passed off on them. A

A wonderful and rapid change is taking place in Pennsylvania, Jersey, and New York. Congress is daily plied with petitions against the alien and sedition laws and standing armies. Several parts of this State are so violent that we fear an insurrection. This will be brought about by some if they can. It is the only thing we have to fear. The appearance of an attack of force against the government would check the present current of the middle States, and rally them around the government; whereas, if suffered to go on, it will pass on to a reformation of abuses. The materials now bearing on the public mind will infallibly restore it to its republican soundness in the course of the present summer, if the knowledge of facts can only be disseminated among the people. Under separate cover you will receive some pamphlets written by George Nicholas on the acts of the last session. These I would wish you to distribute, not to sound men who have no occasion for them, but to such as have been misled, are candid and will be open to the conviction of truth, and are of influence among their neighbors. It is the sick who need medicine, and not the well. Do not let my name appear in the matter. Perhaps I shall forward you some other things to be distributed in the same way. Present me respectfully to Mrs. Stuart, and accept assurances of the sincere esteem of, deai Sir, your affectionate friend and servant.


PHILADELPHIA, February 14, 1799. DEAR SIR, I wrote you a petition on the 29th of January. I know the extent of this trespass on your tranquillity, and how indiscreet it would have been under any other circumstances. But the fate of this country, whether it shall be irretrievably plunged into a form of government rejected by the makers of the Constitution, or shall get back to the true principles of that ininstrument, depends on the turn which things may take within a short period of time ensuing the present moment.

The violations of the Constitution, propensities to war, to expense, and to a particular foreign connection, which we have lately seen, are becoming evident to the people, and are dispelling that mist which X. Y. Z. had spread before their eyes. This State is coming forward with a boldness not yet seen. Even the German counties of York and Lancaster, hitherto the most devoted, have come about, and by petitions with four thousand signers remonstrate against the alien and sedition laws, standing armies, and discretionary powers in the President. New York and Jersey are also getting into great agitation. In this State, we fear that the ill designing may produce insurrection. Nothing could ve so fatal. Anything like force would check the progress of the public opinion and rally them round the government. This is not the ki!ıd of opposition the American people will permit. But keep away all show of force, and they will bear down the evil prafensities of the government, by the constitutional means of election and petition. If we can keep quiet, therefore, the tide now turning will take a steady and proper direction. Even in New Hampshire there are strong symptoms of a rising inquietude. In this state of things, my dear Sir, it is more in your power than any other man's in the United States, to give the coup de grace to the ruinous principles and practices we have seen. In hopes you have consented to it, I shall furnish to you some additional matter which has arisen since my last.

I enclose you a part of a speech of Mr. Gallatin on the naval bill. The views he takes of our finances, and of the policy of our undertaking to establish a great navy, may furnish some hints. I am told something on the same subject from Mr. J. Nicholas will appear in the Richmond and Fredericksburg papers. I mention the real author, that you may respect it duly, for I presume it will be anonymous. The residue of Gallatin's speech shall follow when published. A recent fact, proving the anxiety of France for a reconciliation with us, is the following. You know that one of the armed vessels which we took from her was refitted by us, sent to cruise against her, recaptured, and carried into Gaudaloupe under the name of the Retaliation. On the arrival there of Desfourneaux, the new commissioner, he sent Victor Hughes home in irons; called up our captain ; told him that he found he had a regular commission as an officer of the United States; that his vessel was then lying in the harbor; that he should inquire into no fact preceding his own arrival (by this he avoided noticing that the vessel was really French property) and that therefore, himself and crew were free to depart with their vessel ; that as to the differences between France and the United States, commissioners were coming out to settle them, and in the meantime, no injury should be done on their part. The captain insisted on being a prisoner; the other disclaimed; and so he arrived here with vessel and crew the day before yesterday. Within an hour after this was known to the Senate, they passed a retaliation bill, of which I enclose you a copy. This was the more remarkable, as the bill was founded expressly on the Arret of October the 29th, which had been communicated by the Pre


« PreviousContinue »