Page images
PDF
EPUB

may be understood, and may not disturb the tendency to union. Indeed that union is already effected, from New York southwardly, almost completely. In the New England States it will be slower than elsewhere, from particular circumstances better known to yourself than me. But we will go on attending with the utmost solicitude to their interests, doing them impartial justice, and I have no doubt they will in time do justice to us. I have opened myself frankly, because I wish to be understood by those who mean well, and are disposed to be just towards me, as you are, and because I know you will use it for good purposes only, and for none unfriendly to me. I leave this place in a few days to make a short excursion home, but some domestic arrangements are necessary previous to my final removal here, which will be about the latter end of April. Be so good as to present my respects to Mrs. Knox, and accept yourself assurances of my high consideration and esteem.

TO MESSRS. EDDY, RUSSEL, THURBER, WHEATON, AND SMITH. WASHINGTON, March 27, 1801,

GENTLEMEN,—I return my sincere thanks for your kind congratulations on my elevation to the first magistracy of the United States. I see with pleasure every evidence of the attachment of my fellow citizens to elective government, calculated to promote their happiness, peculiarly adapted to their genius, habits, and situation, and the best permanent corrective of the errors or abuses of those interests with power. The Constitution on which our union rests, shall be administered by me according to the safe and honest meaning contemplated by the plain understanding of the people of the United States, at the time of its adoption, a meaning to be found in the explanations of those who advocated, not those who opposed it, and who opposed it merely least the constructions should be applied which they denounced as possible. These explanations are preserved in the

over.

may.

I am very much in hopes we shall be able to restore union to our country. Not indeed that the federal leaders can be brought They are invincibles; but I really hope their followers The bulk of these last were real republicans, carried over from us by French excesses. This induced me to offer a political creed, and to invite to conciliation first; and I am pleased to hear, that these principles are recognized by them, and considered as no bar of separation. A moderate conduct throughout, which may not revolt our new friends, and which may give them tenets with us, must be observed.

[blocks in formation]

Present my respects to Mrs. Page, and accept evidences of my constant and affectionate esteem.

TO BENJAMIN WARING, ESQ., AND OTHERS.

WASHINGTON, March 23, 1801. GENTLEMEN,-The reliance is most flattering to me which you are pleased to express in the character of my public conduct, as is the expectation with which you look forward to the inviolable preservation of our national Constitution, deservedly the boast of our country. That peace, safety, and concord may be the portion of our native land, and be long enjoyed by our fellow-citizens, is the most ardent wish of my heart, and if I can be instrumental in procuring or preserving them, I shall think I have not lived in vain. In every country where man is free to think and to speak, differences of opinion will arise from difference of perception, and the imperfection of reason; but these differences when permitted, as in this happy country, to purify themselves by free discussion, are but as passing clouds overspreading our land transiently, and leaving our horizon more bright and serene. That love of order and obedience to the laws, which so remarkably characterize the citizens of the United States, are sure pledges of internal tranquillity; and the elective franchise, if

guarded as the act of our safety, will peaceably dissipate all combinations to subvert a Constitution dictated by the wisdom, and resting on the will of the people. That will is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object. I offer my sincere prayers to the Supreme ruler of the Universe, that he may long preserve our country in freedom and prosperity, and to yourselves, Gentlemen, and the citizens of Columbia and its vicinity, the assurances of my profound consideration and respect.

TO MOSES ROBINSON.

WASHINGTON, March 23, 1801.

DEAR SIR,-I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 3d instant, and to thank you for the friendly expressions it contains. I entertain real hope that the whole body of your fellow citizens (many of whom had been carried away by the X. Y. Z. business) will shortly be consolidated in the same sentiments. When they examine the real principles of both parties, I think they will find little to differ about. I know, indeed, that there are some of their leaders who have so committed themselves, that pride, if no other passion, will prevent their coalescing. We must be easy with them. The eastern States will be the last to come over, on account of the dominion of the clergy, who had got a smell of union between Church and State, and began to indulge reveries which can never be realized in the present state of science. If, indeed, they could have prevailed on us to view all advances in science as dangerous innovations, and to look back to the opinions and practices of our forefathers, instead of looking forward, for improvement, a promising groundwork would have been laid. But I am in hopes their good sense will dictate to them, that since the mountain will not come to them, they had better go to the mountain; that they will find their interest in acquiescing in the liberty and science of their

country, and that the Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of its benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.

I sincerely wish with you, we could see our government so secured as to depend less on the character of the person in whose hands it is trusted. Bad men will sometimes get in, and with such an immense patronage, may make great progress in corrupting the public mind and principles. This is a subject with which wisdom and patriotism should be occupied.

I pray you to accept assurances of my high respect and esteem.

TO WILLIAM B. GILES.

WASHINGTON, March 23, 1801.

DEAR SIR,-I received two days ago your favor of the 16th, and thank you for your kind felicitations on my election; but whether it will be a subject of felicitation, permanently, will be for the chapters of future history to say. The important subjects of the government I meet with some degree of courage and confidence, because I do believe the talents to be associated with me, the honest line of conduct we will religiously pursue at home and abroad, and the confidence of my fellow citizens dawning on us, will be equal to these objects.

But there is another branch of duty which I must meet with courage too, though I cannot without pain; that is, the appointments and disappointments as to offices. Madison and Gallatin being still absent, we have not yet decided on our rules of conduct as to these. That some ought to be removed from office, and that all ought not, all mankind will agree. But where to draw the line, perhaps no two will agree. Consequently, nothing like a general approbation on this subject can be looked for. Some principles have been the subject of conversation, but not

of determination; e. g. 1, all appointments to civil offices during pleasure, made after the event of the election was certainly known to Mr. Adams, are considered as nullities. I do not view the persons appointed as even candidates for the office, but make others without noticing or notifying them. Mr. Adams' best friends have agreed this is right. 2. Officers who have been guilty of official mal-conduct are proper subjects of removal. 3. Good men, to whom there is no objection but a difference of political principle, practised on only as far as the right of a private citizen will justify, are not proper subjects of removal, except in the case of attorneys and marshals. The courts being so decidedly federal and irremovable, it is believed that republican attorneys and marshals, being the doors of entrance into the courts, are indispensably necessary as a shield to the republican part of our fellow citizens, which, I believe, is the main body of the people.

These principles are yet to be considered of, and I sketch them to you in confidence. Not that there is objection to your mooting them as subjects of conversation, and as proceeding from yourself, but not as matters of executive determination. Nay, farther, I will thank you for your own sentiments and those of others on them. If received before the 20th of April, they will be in time for our deliberation on the subject. You know that it was in the year X. Y. Z. that so great a transition from us to the other side took place, and with as real republicans as we were ourselves; that these, after getting over that delusion, have been returning to us, and that it is to that return we owe a triumph in 1800, which in 1799 would have been the other way. The week's suspension of the election before Congress, seems almost to have completed that business, and to have brought over nearly the whole remaining mass. They now find themselves with us, and separated from their quondam leaders. If we can but avoid shocking their feelings by unnecessary acts of severity against their late friends, they will in a little time cement and form one mass with us, and by these means harmony and union be restored to our country, which would be the greatest good we

« PreviousContinue »