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on political subjects with men known to be hostile to the government he represents, and whose actions lead to its subversion. He may, even from mistaken views of the interests of his own country, countenance and invite a conduct in another derogatory from its dignity, and injurious to those interests." He declared, that to grant the request would involve the sacrifice of a great national principle.
The following day,* Colonel Pickering again wrote— that while he could not give an official explanation of the motives which had influenced the late President, he was ready, as an individual citizen, to give the reasons for his having advised his being recalled, and that his colleagues would do it in the like form. Monroe's answer † stated, that the object of his request was not to derive information for himself, that he expected an evasive answer. He denounced the principle of the refusal, "as supposing every public officer (the Judges excepted) to be a menial servant of the President-a pernicious doctrine meriting the attention of the people." He retorted upon the Secretary of State, that the policy of the government menaced a war "with our ancient and deserving allybecome a republic after our example, on the side of the remnants of that same coalition which was lately armed against the liberties of the world." He refused to receive a reply from him in any other than his official character,
himself, who likewise possesses mine. I beg you to present my respects to Drs. Rittenhouse and Rush, and that you will believe me sincerely
"Your friend and servant,
This letter was republished from the Virginia Gazette in the Gazette of the United States on the 12th of January, 1798. It was addressed to Dr. Logan.
* July 25.
stating, that his recall was an act of the administration, for which he held the administration responsible!
The recall of Monroe being ascribed in part to Hamilton's influence, he shared largely in the resentments to which it gave rise, now shown in a marked occurrence. Some time in the year seventeen hundred and ninetytwo, two men were prosecuted by the Treasury Department for frauds upon the Government through the agency of a clerk in the office of Register. They were guilty of subornation of perjury, to obtain letters of administration on the estate of a person then alive, in order to collect a small balance due to him by the United States. One of these criminals, who had been in the service of Mughlenberg, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, solicited his interposition to get them released from the prosecution. The Speaker, in company with Burr, waited upon Hamilton for this purpose. Pending this matter, one of these criminals intimated to the Speaker, that his accomplice had it in his power to injure the Secretary of the Treasury, and that he knew several improper transactions of his. After frequent repetitions of these intimations, the Speaker felt it his duty to communicate them to Venable and Monroe, also members of Congress, to whom similar intimations had been conveyed. The three, the next day, proceeded to the jail, and listened to the imprisoned culprit's charge, that he had a person high in office in his power, and that he expected to be released by the Comptroller, through Hamilton's influence. His threats being reported to Wolcott, he communicated them to Hamilton, who "advised him to take no step towards his liberation while such a report existed, and remained unexplained." Nor did he stop here. On being apprised by a merchant that he was requested to become bail for the imprisoned party, Hamilton not only declined inter
posing in his behalf, but informed the merchant, they had been guilty of a crime, and advised him to have nothing to do with them. Baffled in their hope of stopping the prosecution, the former clerk of the Speaker confessed, that he and his accomplice were possessed of lists of the names and sums due to certain creditors of the United States, which lists had been obtained surreptitiously from the Treasury. For some time, these men refused to deliver up these lists; but at length, on receiving a promise from the Comptroller of his influence to obtain their liberation, they consented to surrender the lists, to restore the money which had been fraudulently obtained, and to reveal the name of the person by whom the lists had been furnished. This being done, the Attorney-General of Pennsylvania, on being apprised by the Comptroller that an important discovery had been made, and of the condition by which it could be rendered useful in preventing future frauds, the prosecutions were dismissed, and the dishonest Registry clerk turned out. This clerk was the Fraunces, who, in revenge for his dismission from the Treasury, and encouraged by some of the political opponents of Hamilton, made a false accusation to Congress against him, which, it has been seen, they unhesitatingly spurned, unanimously exculpating him and approving his conduct.*
Influenced by the representations of these criminals, the three members of Congress waited upon Hamilton at his office, informed him of the charge, and that they had become possessed of some papers of a suspicious complexion, that they had contemplated bringing the matter before the President, declaring at the same time, that their agency was influenced solely by a sense of public
* Feb. 19, 1794. Infra, v. 330, 424.
duty and by no motive of personal ill will. At a subsequent interview, on the evening of the same day, in the presence of the Comptroller, Wolcott, an explanation was made by Hamilton of the papers shown to him, on which the two criminals had founded their accusation. These papers were shown demonstrably to have no reference whatever to any official matter or duty, but to a personal correspondence and intercourse with a female connected in marriage or ambiguously related to one or both of the two criminals, into which Hamilton had been drawn by the advances of the female herself; the perversion of which papers had been made to gain protection from punishment of their crime through Hamilton's political adversaries. Feeling that they had been made use of for this purpose, the result was, a full and unequivocal acknowledgment on the part " of all the three members of Congress of perfect satisfaction with the explanation, and expressions of regret at the trouble and embarrassment they had occasioned to him. Mughlenberg and Venable, in particular, manifested a degree of sensibility on the occasion-Monroe was more cold, but entirely explicit." Immediately after this interview, Hamilton asked in writing and obtained copies of these papers; and, at his request, the originals were detained from the fraudulent miscreants to prevent a repetition "of the abominable attempt of which they had been the instruments." Monroe's reply assured him, "every thing you desire shall be most strictly complied with."
Time passed on. After two inquiries by Congress, subsequent to this affair, into Hamilton's official conduct, and a full unanimous acknowledgment of his perfect integrity, and an opportunity offered by him of a third inquiry, more than two years elapsing since the foulness of this conspiracy against him was shown, he retired from
office, was extensively engaged in his profession, retaining, as seen, his most intimate confidential relations with · Washington.
His influence on the public counsels was well known and felt by the opposition, and it was at this period determined to strike a blow, which he either would not repel, or, if repelled, must be by a public disclosure that would wound his sensibility. The original papers which had been sacredly confided to Monroe, and for the safe keeping whereof to prevent a similar abuse of them, it is seen he had given to Hamilton a solemn pledge, were passed into the hands of one Callender, an infamous hireling, who, it will hereafter appear, was pensioned by Jefferson to vilify Washington. This person, a short time after Monroe's return to the United States, gave them publicity, as evidence of peculation by Hamilton-the foul charge, the utter untruth whereof, Mughlenberg, Venable and Monroe had explicitly and fully admitted. Immediately on seeing this publication, Hamilton addressed a letter to each of these three members of Congress, demanding a declaration equivalent to that which they had previously made, of their perfect satisfaction with his explanation of them. It was given, accompanied with an assurance, that the publication had been made without their agency or knowledge; but Hamilton having perceived, as he thought, some evidence that the declaration was not candid on the part of Monroe, a personal correspondence ensued with him, showing Hamilton's indignation at the transaction.
Monroe alleged, in solution of this breach of faith, that he had deposited these papers on his departure for France, "in the hands of a respectable character in Virginia,” for safe keeping, where they still were. From that "respectable character" they must have gone to this Callender