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REPUBLIC OF THE UNITED STATES.
THE Inaugural address of the new President was a strange medley of sonorous generalities and unfit particularities; an historical commendation of the Constitution, a vindication of himself from the desire of "alteration ;"—an eulogistic appeal to the people, as the source of an elective government, needing, he assured them, not the aid of "robes or diamonds ;"-an approval of the policy of the late administration and a just tribute to Washington; a boon to the Federalists, in a declared purpose to maintain "their system of neutrality and impartiality;" and a lure to the Democrats, in an avowal of his "personal esteem for the French nation." The thoughts, the language, and the tone were all of a sort to win unthinking favor; yet he uttered opinions, and indulged prejudices at variance with all he thus proclaimed, at the moment he was about to take his oath of office.
Alternate feelings swayed in the breast of Adams, pride at his elevation-doubts as to his position-distrust of the Federalists-fear of the Democrats. The glory of Washington he saw, overshadowing and pursuing him,— VOL. VII.-1
the blandishments of Jefferson following and soliciting him; jealous of the one, contemning the other. Hatred of England-dislike to France-aversion to the financial system, because it was Hamilton's, and had succeeded; apprehension of change, lest it should fail—all were present. Thus acted upon by opposing passions and opposite forces, he stood, with the power of the nation in his hands, paralyzed by his own incertitudes. "I am the President of three votes only," was his ever mortifying, ever returning reflection.
The Cabinet, instead of a support, was a restraint upon him. He felt it was not his, but the Cabinet of Washington. "These were but puppets," he wrote to Jefferson, "danced upon the wires of two jugglers behind the scenes, and these jugglers were Hamilton and Washington. How you stare at the name of Washington!"† This Cabinet is seen, though not seeking war, yet reluc、 tant to further negotiation, when all the interests of the country demanded peace, could peace be maintained without a sacrifice of national honor. Thus, when every consideration required prompt decision and manly action, nothing was decided and nothing done.
In this state of mind, AMES found Adams the morning after his inauguration. Retiring from public life, in sinking health, he paid a parting visit to the President. In this interview, he suggested to him the appointment of a commission to France, of which he named George Cabot as one. Immediately after, Adams "sought" an interview with Jefferson, who joyed as he felt him nibbling at the bait. The President intimated to him the idea of
* Adams's Works, alluding to his majority over Jefferson-71 to 68. Adams to Jefferson. Quincy, June 30, 1813.
sending him on this mission to Paris, which not being encouraged, he proposed to him the nomination of Gerry and Madison, jointly with Pinckney.
Jefferson questioned Madison's acceptance, but promised to ascertain his views. Adams then hastened to a member of the Cabinet, who evinced a fixed opposition to Madison.* Staggered by this, and fearing the Senate might not confirm his nomination, he abandoned him.
Adams was already entirely at fault. The partisans of France now paid him "the most adulatory addresses.”† The French minister, Adet, asked and was admitted to a private interview. The nomination of Jefferson was urged. The wind had changed, Adams did not concur. "To see such a character as Jefferson, and much more such an unknown being as Pinckney, brought over my head, and trampling on the bellies of hundreds of other men infinitely his superiors in talents, services, and reputation, filled me with apprehensions for the safety of us all. It demonstrated to me, if the project succeeded, our Constitution could not have lasted four years. We should have been set afloat and landed, the Lord knows where."‡
Adopting the reason assigned by the Vice President, for his non-acceptance of the embassy-his official station-although he had offered him the mission; Adams
* Of this interview two differing statements exist-one by Adams, written long after, the other, written when is not certain. Adams states, "he seri ously doubted whether the Senate would not negative Madison," and he “ concluded to omit him." Jefferson relates, "I consulted Mr. Madison, he declined as I expected. I think it was on Monday, the sixth of March, we met at dinner at General Washington's," and on that day he informed him of Madison's refusal. Washington's term expired on Friday, the third of March, he was present at the inauguration on Saturday, and left Philadelphia on Monday morning, the sixth of March.
Administration of Washington and Adams, i. 476.
declared, "Jefferson would not go. * We shall never be respected in Europe while we confound ranks in this If we wish not to be degraded in the eyes of foreigners, we should not degrade ourselves. What would have been thought in Europe, if the King of France had sent Monsieur, his eldest brother, as an envoy? What, of the king of England, if he had sent the Prince of Wales? Mr. Jefferson, is in essence, in the same situation. He is the first prince of the country, and the heirapparent to the sovereign authority, quoad hoc. His consideration in France is nothing. They consider nobody but themselves. * * To a Frenchman, the most important man in the world is himself-and the most important nation is France."
Time decides for the irresolute. The event, which the Democratic press had predicted, occurred.
In the infancy of their power the Directory of France clothed their energy with an affected moderation. Whilst stimulating by every incentive the military ardor of the French nation, and extending their wide conquests, they professed a desire of peace. Thus, by contrast with the fierceness of their predecessors, they won the confidence of those of their subjects, who were weary of war, and infused a fatal weakness into the counsels of their enemies.
The great career of victory continued. The smaller powers along the Rhine had, one by one, succumbed, trembling before the massive armies, whose approach spread consternation throughout farther Germany. The Mediterranean States of Italy had ceased to exist. Instead of a well-compacted confederacy, which would promote the common welfare of its members, but might resist aggression, small defenceless associations were formed, having nothing in common but the latinized names, under which they were aggregated, and their
common dependence upon France. Four powerful armies, drawn in succession from the hereditary dominions of Austria, she had exterminated; a fifth only remained to be destroyed, and her sway would extend unresisted from the Alps to the Adriatic.
With her power thus established, no motives for dissimulation were supposed to exist. Policy gave place to pride; proposals of peace were the precursors to insult. The mask of republican moderation was thrown aside, and the Directory, from beneath their iron helms, frowned menace and destruction.
Either alarmed by their successes for the fate of Austria, or yielding to the importunity of the opposition, the British ministry early in the preceding year made an unsuccessful overture for a negotiation, through the embassy to Switzerland. It was met by an evasive and haughty reply-which assumed, that the constitution of France was paramount to all the rights and interests of other sovereigns. Overtures were, nevertheless, renewed through other channels, until, at last, the Directory felt compelled to appear to listen to them, and a mission to Paris was instituted. After much evasion and great delay, the principle of mutual compensation was admitted as the basis of a negotiation. But, the moment after, without any proposal of conditions on their part, the Directory required England to deliver her final terms within twenty-four hours. To this positive demand, the British envoy replied, declaring his readiness to enter into a discussion of their mutual claims. He was answered by a peremptory note of the same day, that he must depart from Paris within forty-eight hours. Twelve ambassadors had been previously dismissed.
The order was given on the nineteenth of December. On the fifth of that month General Pinckney arrived at