« PreviousContinue »
practiced in the Federal court with you, and not in your own courts; the Federal courts being decided by law to proceed and decide by the laws of the States.
TO N. R
PHILADELPHIA, February 2, 1800. My letters to yourself and my dear Martha have been of January 13th, 21st, and 28th. I now enclose a letter lately received for her. You will see in the newspapers all the details we have of the proceedings of Paris. I observe that Lafayette is gone there. When we see him, Volney, Sieyes, Talleyrand, gathering round the new powers, we may conjecture from thence their views and principles. Should it be really true that Bonaparte has usurped the government with an intention of making it a free one, whatever his talents may be for war, we have no proofs that he is skilled in forming governments friendly to the people. Wherever he has meddled we have seen nothing but fragments of the old Roman government stuck into materials with which they can form no cohesion : we see the bigotry of an Italian to the ancient splendor of his country, but nothing which bespeaks a luminous view of the organization of rational government. Perhaps however this may end better than we augur ; and it certainly will if his head is equal to true and solid calculations of glory. It is generally hoped here that peace may take place. There was before no union of views between Austria and the members of the triple coalition ; and the defeats of Suwarrow appear to have completely destroyed the confidence of Russia in that power, and the failure of the Dutch expedition to have weaned him from the plans of England. The withdrawing his armies we hope is the signal for the entire dissolution of the coalition, and for every one seeking his separate peace.
We have great need of this event, that foreign affairs may no longer bear so heavily on ours. We have great need for the ensuing twelve
months to be left to ourselves. The enemies of our Constitution are preparing a fearful operation, and the dissensions in this State are too likely to bring things to the situation they wish, when our Bonaparte, surrounded by his comrades in arms, may step in to give us political salvation in his way. It behoves our citizens to be on their guard, to be firm in their principles, and full of confidence in themselves. We are able to preserve our self-government if we will but think so. I think the return of Lafayette to Paris ensures a reconciliation between them and
He will so entwist himself with the Envoys that they will not be able to draw off. Mr. C. Pinckney has brought into the Senate a bill for the uniform appointment of juries. A tax on Public stock, Bank stock, &c., is to be proposed. This would bring one hundred and fifty millions into contribution with the lands, and levy a sensible proportion of the expenses of a war on those who are so anxious to engage us in it. Robins' affair is perhaps to be inquired into. However, the majority against these things leave no hope of success. It is most unfortunate that while Virginia and North Carolina were steady, the Middle States drew back ; now that these are laying their shoulders to the draught, Virginia and North Carolina baulk ; so that never drawing together, the Eastern States, steady and unbroken, draw all to themselves. I was mistaken last week in saying no more failures had happened. New ones have been declaring every day in Baltimore, others here and at New York. The last here have been Nottnagil, Montmollin and Co., and Peter Blight. These sums are enormous. I do not know the firms of the bankrupt houses in Baltimore, but the crush will be incalculable. In the present stagnation of commerce, and particularly that in tobacco, it is difficult to transfer money from hence to Richmond. Government bills on their custom house at Bermuda can from time to time be had. I think it would be best for Mr. Barnes always to keep them bespoke, and to remit in that way your instalments as fast as they are either due or within the discountable period. The 1st is due the middle of March, and so from two months to two months in five equal instalments. I
am looking out to see whether such a difference of price here may be had as will warrant our bringing our tobacco from New York here, rather than take eight dollars there. We have been very unfortunate in this whole business. First in our own miscalculations of the effect of the non-intercourse law; and where we had corrected our opinions, that our instructions were from good, but mistaken views, not executed. My constant love to my dear Martha, kisses to her young ones, and affectionate esteem to yourself.
TO SAMUEL ADAMS.
PHILADELPHIA, February 26, 1800. DEAR SIR,—Mr. Erving delivered me your favor of January 31st, and I thank you for making me acquainted with him. You will always do me a favor in giving me an opportunity of knowing gentlemen as estimable in their principles and talents as I find Mr. Erving to be. I have not yet seen Mr. Winthrop. A letter from you, my respectable friend, after three and twenty years of separation, has given me a pleasure I cannot express. It recalls to my mind the anxious days we then passed in struggling for the cause of mankind. Your principles have been tested in the crucible of time, and have come out pure. You have proved that it was monarchy, and not merely British monarchy, you opposed. A government by representatives, elected by the people at short periods, was our object; and our maxim at that day was, “ where annual election ends, tyranny begins ;" nor have our departures from it been sanctioned by the happiness of their effects. A debt of an hundred millions growing by usurious interest, and an artificial paper phalanx overruling the agricultural mass of our country, with other et ceteras, have a portentous aspect.
I fear our friends on the other side of the water, laboring in the same cause, have yet a great deal of crime and misery to wade through. My confidence has been placed in the head, not
in the heart of Bonaparte. I hoped he would calculate truly the difference between the fame of a Washington and a Cromwell. Whatever his views may be, he has at least transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm. Some will use this as a lesson against the practicability of republican government. I read it as a lesson against the danger of standing armies.
Adieu, my ever respected and venerable friend. May that kind overruling providence which has so long spared you to our country, still foster your remaining years with whatever may make them comfortable to yourself and soothing to your friends. Accept the cordial salutations of your affectionate friend.
TO JAMES MADISON.
PHILADELPHIA, March 4, 1800. DEAR SIR,—I have never written to you since my arrival here, for reasons which were explained. Yours of December 29th, January the 4th, 9th, 12th, 18th, and February the 14th, have therefore remained unacknowledged. I have at different times enclosed to you such papers as seemed interesting. To-day I forward Bingham's amendment to the election bill formerly enclosed to you, Mr. Pinckney's proposed amendment to the Constitution, and the report of the Ways and Means. Bingham's amendment was lost by the usual majority of two to one. A very different one will be proposed, containing the true sense of the minority, viz. that the two Houses, voting by heads, shall decide such questions as the Constitution authorizes to be raised. This may probably be taken up in the other House under better auspices, for though the federalists have a greať majority there, yet they are of a more moderate temper than for some time past. The Senate, however, seem determined to yield to nothing which shall give the other House greater weight in the decision on elections than they have.
Mr. Pinckney's motion has been supported, and is likely to have some votes which were not expected. I rather believe he will withdraw it, and propose the same thing in the form of a bill; it being the opinion of some that such a regulation is not against the present Constitution. In this form it will stand a better chance to pass, as a majority only in both Houses will be necessary. By putting off the building of the seventy-fours and stopping enlistments, the loan will be reduced to three and a half millions. But I think it cannot be obtained. For though no new bankruptcies have happened here for some weeks, or in New York, yet they continue to happen in Baltimore, and the whole commercial race are lying on their oars, and gathering in their affairs, not knowing what new failures may put their resources to the proof. In this state of things they cannot lend money. Some foreigners have taken asylum among us, with a good deal of money, who may perhaps choose that deposit. Robbins affair has been under agitation for some days. Livingston made an able speech of two and a half hours yesterday. The advocates of the measure feel its pressure heavily; and though they may be able to repel Livingston's motion of censure, I do not believe they can carry Bayard's of approbation. The landing of our Envoys at Lisbon will risk a very dangerous consequence, insomuch as the news of Truxton's aggression will perhaps arrive at Paris before our commissioners will. Had they gone directly there, they might have been two months ahead of that news. We are entirely without further information from Paris. By letters from Bordeaux, of December the 7th, tobacco was then from twenty-five to twenty-seven dollars per hundred. Yet did Marshall maintain on the non-intercourse bill, that its price at other markets had never been affected by that law. While the navigating and provision States, who are the majority, can keep open all the markets, or at least sufficient ones for their objects, the cries of the tobacco makers, who are the minority, and not at all in favor, will hardly be listened to. It is truly the fable of the monkey pulling the nuts out of the fire with the cat’s paw; and it shows that G. Mason's proposition in the Convention was wise, that on