« AnteriorContinuar »
In the mean time, (1791,) the president prepared to make his long contemplated tour through the southern states. In passing through them, he was received universally with the same marks of affectionate attachment, which he had experienced in the northern and central parts of the union. The addresses presented to him, from all classes of his fellow citizens, exhibit a glow of expression, which is the genuine offspring of ardent feeling, and evince that the attachment to his person and character, which they professed, was undissembled. To the sensibilities which these demonstrations of regard and esteem of good men, could not fail to inspire, was added the high gratification produced by observing the rapid improvements of the country, and the advances made by the government, in acquiring the confidence of the people.- The numerous letters, written by the president, after his return to Philadelphia, attest the agreeable impressions made by these causes. “In my late tour through the southern states,” said he, in a letter of the 28th of July, to Mr. Gouverneur Morris, “I experienced great satisfaction, in seeing the good effects of the general government in that part of the union. The people at large have felt the security which it gives, and the equal justice which it administers to them. The farmer, the merchant, and the mechanic, have seen their several interests attended to, and from thence they unite in placing a confidence in their representatives, as well as in those in whose hands the execution of the laws is placed. Industry has there taken place of idleness, and economy of dissipation. Two or three years of good crops, and a ready market for the produce of their lands, have put every one into good humour; and, in some instances, they even impute to the government, what is due only to the goodness of Providence.
6. The establishment of public credit is an immense point gained in our national concerns. This, I believe, exceeds the expectation of the most sanguine amongst us :and a late instance, unparalleled in this country, has been given, of the confidence reposed in our measures, by the rapidity with which the subscriptions to the bank of the United States, were filled. In two hours after the books were opened by the commissioners, the whole number of shares was taken up, and four thousand more applied for, than were
allowed by the institution. This circumstance was not only pleasing, as it related to the confidence in government, but also as it exhibited an unexpected proof of the resources of our citizens."
During the session of congress, in 1791, an act passed, for establishing a uniform militia. Impressed alike from reason, from observation, and from feeling, with the necessity imposed upon a nation as powerful as the United States,
to provide adequate means for its own security ; convinced, • that in America, the objections to a military establishment
which might serve even as the germ of an army, were insurmountable ; and that the militia, without great improvement in the existing system, must be found, in time of danger, a very inadequate resource; the president had manifested, from the commencement of his administration, a peculiar degree of solicitude on this subject.
At the succeeding session of congress, not only was this recommendation repeated, but a plan, which had been digested during the recess, was transmitted to both houses, in form of a report from the secretary of war, " that they might make such use thereof, as they might think proper.” A bill, conforming to this plan, in many of its essential principles, was introduced into the house of representatives, at an early stage of the session, but the subject was found to be involved in much greater difficulties than had been apprehended. To reconcile the public interest with private convenience, was a task not easily to be performed. Those provisions which were required to render the bill competent to the great purposes of national defence, involved a sacrifice of time and money, which the representatives of the people were unwilling to exact from their constituents, and the propriety of demanding which was the more questionable, as the burthen would be imposed, not so much upon property, as upon per sons. The different ideas entertained on this subject, in different parts of the union, and the difficulty of drawing the precise line between continental and state authority, created additional obstacles to the progress of the measure; and the first congress passed away, without being able to devise any system in which a majority could concur.
In his speech at the opening of the present session, the president again called the attention of the legislature to this
important subject; and at length a law was enacted, which is far less efficacious than the plan reported by the secretary of war, but which will probably not soon be carried into complete execution. It may well be doubted, whether the attempt to do more than to organize and arm the militia of a country under the circumstances of the United States, can ever be successful. Those habits of subordination, and of implicit obedience, which are believed to cons ute the most valuable part of discipline, and the art of moving in an un. broken body, are perhaps to be acquired only in camp; and experience has not yet rendered it certain, that arrangements which aim at an object, by means unequal to its attainment, will yield a good proportioned to the burthen they impose.
General Washington attends to the foreign relations of the
United States. Negotiates with Spain. Difficulties in the way. The free navigation of the Mississippi is granted by a treaty made with Major Pinkney. Negotiations with Britain. Difficulties in the way,
War probable. Mr. Jay's mission. His treaty with Great Britain. Opposition thereto. Is ratified. Washington refuses papers to the House of Representatives. British posts in the United States evacuated. Negotiations with France. Genet's arrival. Assumes illegal powers, in violation of the neutrality of the United States. Is flattered by the people, but opposed by the executive. Iš recalled. General Pinkney sent as public minister to adjust disputes with France. Is not received. Washington declines a re-election, and addresses the people. His last address to the national legislature. Recommends a navy, a military academy, and other public institutions.
EVENTS, which had taken place before the inauguration of Washington, embarrassed his negotiations for the adjustment of the political relations between the United States and Spain.
In the year 1779, Mr. Jay had been appointed by the old congress to make a treaty with his Catholic majesty, but his best endeavours for more than two years were ineffectual. In a fit of despondence, while the revolutionary war was pressing, he had been authorised to agree. “ to relinquish, and in future forbear to use the navigation of the river Mississippi, from the point where it leaves the United States, down to the ocean." After the war was ended, a majority of congress had agreed to barter away, for twenty-five years, their claim to this navigation.—A long and intricate negotiation, between Mr. Gardoqui, the minister of his Catholic majesty, and the secretary of foreign affairs, had taken place at New York, in the interval between the establishment of peace, and of the new constitution of the United States; but it was rendered abortive by the inflexible adherence of Mr. Gardoqui to the exclusion of the citizens of the United States from navigating the Mississippi below their southern boundary. This unyielding disposition of Spain, the inability of the United States to assert their claims to the navigation of this river, and especially the facility which the old congress had shown to recede from it for a term of years, had soured the minds of the western settlers.—Their impatience transported them so far beyond the bounds of policy, that they sometimes dropped hints of separating from the Atlantic states, and attaching themselves to the Spaniards. In this critical state of things, the president found abundant exercise for all his prudence. The western inhabitants were, in fact, thwarting his views in their favour, and encouraging Spain to persist in refusing that free navigation, which was so ardently desired both by the president and the people. The adherence of Spain to the exclusive use of the lower Mississippi, and the impolitic discontents of the western inhabitants, were not the only embarrassments of Washington, in negotiating with the court of Madrid.
In 1793, four Frenchmen lest Philadelphia, empowered by Mr. Genet, the minister of the French republic, to prepare an expedition in Kentucky against New Orleans. Spain, then at war with France, was at peace with the United States. Washington was officially bound to interpose his authority to prevent the raising of an armed force from amongst his fellow citizens, to commit hostilities on a peaceable neigh.
bouring power. Orders were accordingly given to the civi authority in Kentucky, to use all legal means to prevent this expedition ; but the execution of these orders was so languid, that it became necessary to call in the aid of the regular army. General Wayne was ordered to establish a military post at Fort Massac on the Ohio, for the purpose of forcibly stop ping any body of armed men, who, in opposition to remonstrances, should persist in descending that river.
Many of the high spirited Kentuckians were so exasperated against the Spaniards, as to be very willing to second the views of the French minister, and under his auspices to attack New Orleans. The navigation of the Mississippi was 80 necessary for conveying to proper markets, the surplusage of their luxuriant soil, that, to gain this privilege, others were willing to receive it from the hands of the Spaniards, at the price of renouncing all political connexion with the United States. While these opposite modes of seeking a remedy for the same evil, were pursuing by persons of different temperaments, a remonstrance from the irrhabitants of Kentucky was presented to Washington and congress. This demanded the use of the Mississippi, as a natural right, and at the same time charged the government with being under the influence of a local policy, which had prevented all serious efforts for the acquisition of a right which was essential to the prosperity of the western people. It spoke the language of an injured people, irritated by the mal-adminis tration of their public servants, and hinted the probability of a dismemberment of the union, if their natural rights were not vindicater! by government. To appease these discontents, to restrain the Crench from inaking war on the Spaniards, with a force raised and embodied in the United States, and at the same time, by fair negotiation, to obtain the free use of the Mississippi from the court of Madrid, was the task assigned to Washington.- Difficult and delicate as it was, the whole was accomplished. Anterior to the receipt of the Kentucky remonstrance, the president, well knowing the discontents of the interior people, and that the publication of them would obstruct his views, had directed the secretary of state to give assurances to the governor of Kentucky, that every exertion was making to obtain for the western people the free navigation which they so much desired. The strong