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1800. - John Jay, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, vol. 4 (1794-1826) 
The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry P. Johnston, A.M. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93). Vol. 4 (1794-1826).
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JAY TO REV. SAMUEL MILLER.
Albany, 28th February, 1800.
Accept my thanks for the sermon on the death of General Washington, which you were so obliging as to send me. In my opinion it abounds in excellent sentiments, well arranged and expressed. Writing thus freely, I think it candid to observe that in some instances ideas are conveyed which do not appear to me to be correct; such, for instance, as “our glorious emancipation from Britain.” The Congress of 1774 and 1775, etc., regarded the people of this country as being free; and such was their opinion of the liberty we enjoyed so late as the year 1763, that they declared the colonies would be satisfied on being replaced in the political situation in which they then were. It was not until after the year 1763 that Britain attempted to subject us to arbitrary domination. We resisted the stamp with energy and success, and when afterwards she claimed to bind us in all cases whatever, the same spirit of resistance animated our councils and our conduct; when she recurred to arms to put a yoke upon us, we recurred to arms to keep it off. A struggle ensued which produced the Revolution, and ended in an entire dissolution of all the political ties which had before subsisted between the two countries. Thus we became a distinct nation, and I think truth will justify our indulging the pride of saying that we and our ancestors have kept our necks free from yokes, and that the term emancipation is not applicable to us.
Speaking of the measures of General Washington’s civil administration, you observe, and it is the fact, “that there is less unanimity among her countrymen with respect to these, than with respect to his military services.” But do facts warrant our ascribing this diminution of unanimity entirely to doubts respecting the wisdom of those measures? The Revolution found and left only two primary parties, viz., the Whigs who succeeded, and the Tories who were suppressed. The former were unanimous in approving the leading measures, both civil and military, which gave them victory. When the adoption of the new Constitution afterwards came into question, the Whigs divided into two parties, one for and the other against it. The party for the Constitution prevailed; and they have with as great unanimity approved of General Washington’s civil, as of his military measures and services. The party opposed to the Constitution disapproved of the government established by it, and there are very few of the important measures of that government which have escaped their censure.
I take the liberty of making these remarks from the respect I have for your talents, and an opinion that, with due circumspection, they will promote the great interests of truth, virtue, and national liberty. Receive them, therefore, as marks of the esteem with which I am, sir,
Your most obedient servant,
REV. SAMUEL MILLER TO JAY.
New York, March 17, 1800.
. . . . . . .
With regard to your observation, on the manner in which General Washington’s political character and services are taken notice of in the sermon, though I receive it, and consider the motive by which it was dictated, with profound respect, yet you will pardon me if I hesitate to adopt your opinion in the same unqualified manner, in this, as in the preceding instance.
On the occasion on which the sermon was delivered I was unwilling to touch upon any thing connected with party animosity. Had I, therefore, perfectly agreed with you in sentiments, with regard to the parties which have for several years divided the citizens of the United States, it would not have been thought proper by me, to introduce such sentiments, or indeed any other, involving the political polemics of the day, into a pulpit exercise. But, sir, I had a more powerful reason for speaking as I did. To avoid giving offence to an audience will always, I hope, be a secondary object with me to the duty of a candid expression of my sentiments, when such expression is demanded. I am one of those who do not entirely approve the measures of the late venerable President, and although I am persuaded that multitudes have opposed them from a fixed principle of hostility to the constitution and in a very unreasonable and criminal manner, yet, after as impartial an examination of my own mind as I am able to institute, I cannot believe that my disapprobation arises from any other source than “doubts of the wisdom of those measures.” My doubts, indeed, may be wholly groundless; and give me leave to say, that few things have more frequently tempted me to suspect that this might be the case, than a recollection of the splendid talents and (in my view) the unquestionable uprightness, which have been engaged in carrying on the measures referred to. Still, however, these doubts exist, though, I hope, they are entertained, and generally expressed, without obstinacy and without malevolence.
With respect to the last idea suggested in your letter, that the party who originally approved the Constitution have unanimously continued to approve the Government established by it, considered as a general remark, it is probably just. But many exceptions are certainly to be found. Being only a lad of seventeen years of age when the Constitution was adopted, it would be improper to speak of my own sentiments at that time. I was then residing in Delaware, my native State. In that State, you recollect, the Constitution was adopted promptly and unanimously. Among the number of its warmest admirers and most zealous supporters were my family and particular friends; and in the same class I have, ever since, considered myself. It is, moreover, beyond all question true, that many of the first characters, for talents, virtue, and property, in that State, who then took side in favour of the constitution with great decision, and who have uniformly professed themselves to be its friends to the present day, are now to be ranked with what is called the opposition. I have taken my examples from Delaware, as being better able to compare the different parts of the conduct of her principal citizens, for the last twelve years, than to do the same with regard to my adopted State. I am well aware that those who came under the description which has been mentioned, are charged with being inconsistent men, and with having changed their ground. That some have given reason for bringing this charge against them, and for suspecting their motives, I do not deny. But that disapproving parts of the conduct of Administration always implies enmity to the constitution, I am not convinced, and, therefore, am not ready, at present, to concede.—
You will, perhaps, be somewhat surprized at my taking the liberty to trouble you with these expositions and details of my sentiments, in answer to your remarks. I am sensible it is of little importance what my political opinions are. They have been generally held in a moderate and inoffensive manner, and both my profession and inclination forbid me to take an active part in the civil concerns of my country. It is, indeed, my wish to abstract myself more and more from party politics. But several reasons induced me to acknowledge the receipt of your remarks, and in doing this my first resolution was to be unreserved. You had given an example of candour too flattering and instructive not to be imitated. I have only to add, that, if I do not deceive myself, my highest ambition is to promote “the great interests of Religion, Virtue, and rational Liberty;”—that if any of my principles have a different tendency, I shall be among the first to abhor them on making the discovery; and that he who corrects any errors into which I may fall, will always be considered by me as my truest friend and benefactor.
I have the honor to be, with sentiments of very high respect,
Your Excellency’s much obliged and humble Servant,
JAY TO REV. DR. MORSE.
Albany, 24th April, 1800.
Several affairs, more interesting to others than to me, have for some months past so pressed upon me as, together with official busines, to leave me little leisure to attend even to my own concerns. Hence I have been constrained into delays respecting my correspondents, which could not have been less agreeable to their feelings than to my own.
Accept my thanks for the several communications with which you have favoured me. The fact which you have given to the public relative to the conduct of France in our Revolution, as well as your strictures on the designs and intrigues of the Illuminés, have, to a certain extent, been useful. They have made proper impressions on many sedate and candid men, but I suspect they have detached very few of the disciplined adherents of the party. As yet, there appears but little reason to believe that philosophism is losing ground in this country. There is indeed less said about it, but indications of immorality are neither less frequent nor more odious and disgraceful in common estimation than heretofore. A moral epidemic seems to prevail in the world. What may be its duration, or the limits of its ravages, time only can ascertain.
The approaching general election in this State will be unusually animated. No arts or pains will be spared to obtain an anti-federal representation, in order to obtain an anti-federal President, etc., and through him divers other objects.
The late revolution in France does not appear to have dissipated the clouds which veiled from our view the fate of that and other countries. As yet, I see little reason to expect the restoration of the Bourbon family; nor is it certain that great good would result from it. Of the issue of the present interesting campaign, no satisfactory conjectures can yet be formed; and nothing at present appears which presents a fair prospect of a speedy termination of the miseries of Europe. Our envoys in France will probably succeed; but whether that success would ultimately promote our tranquillity and happiness, is a point on which many judicious men differ in opinion.
We have lost much in General Washington, whose death you and others have made the subject of eloquent discourses. From the state of our parties and affairs, some are persuaded that he has been taken from evil to come. It may be so; but I fear that such apprehensions are sometimes indulged too far, and that they often disqualify men from meeting either good or evil in a becoming manner.
With great esteem and regard, I am, dear sir, your most obedient servant,
THEOPHILUS PARSONS TO JAY.
Newburyport, May 5th, 1800.
The Rev. Mr. Andrews of this town, intending to visit Albany, during a journey he is now contemplating, I have taken the liberty to trouble you with a line by him containing a short statement of the political sentiments of Massachusetts at the present moment, as our public papers will not give a correct view of them. Opinions, formed from the general appearance of our papers, in favour of the great prevalence of artificial sentiments, would be as unjust as, in fact, they are ill founded. The votes for Governor are generally returned, and it is now certain that Mr. Gerry is not elected; and it is extremely probable that Mr. Strong is. As our constitution requires a majority of votes, it is perhaps possible that there may be a few scattered votes, in addition to the number already known, which may defeat an election by the people. But my principal motive in troubling your Excellency, was to explain the motives, which induced so large a number of the electors to support Mr. Gerry, consistently with the great predomination of Federal principles in Massachusetts.
Mr. Gerry was believed to be a Federalist by one half of the electors who supported him. This opinion resulted from several causes. He was considered as an ardent revolutionary Whig. He had publickly professed the strongest attachment to Mr. Adams’ administration. The President had appointed him an Envoy to France; and it was reported and by some believed, that he approved of his conduct in that mission, and still continued strongly attached to him. The mercantile towns were also told that Mr. Gerry was educated a merchant, and consequently would promote the commerce of the country; that Mr. Strong, living in a remote part of the State, all executive business would be impeded by his distance from the centre of the Government. In addition to these causes another was also invented, that the legislature had recommended him, and had thus invaded the rights of the electors; and that to spurn at the commendation would effectually prevent any future invasion. Arguments of a very different nature were industriously and privately circulated among the anti-Federalists. They were informed, that Mr. Gerry was an anti-Federalist, opposed originally to the Federal constitution, and never after reconciled to it, that he went to France merely to preserve peace with our republican allies, that he would have succeeded had he gone alone, that he was opposed to war, to a standing army, to a funding system, was no stock-holder, was unconnected with commerce, and attached to the agricultural interest. An attention to the votes for senators, will clearly evince the fact that a great part of the electors for Mr. Gerry were Federalists. In every senatorial district, the anti-Federalists ran a rival ticket with great zeal and confidence. But in every district, except three, the Federal ticket had a majority, and, in most of them, great majorities. In Norfolk the anti-Federal ticket prevailed thro’ the influence of our general, the famous Heath; in the other two, from a division of sentiments, there was no choice. In Middelsex, where Mr. Gerry had the strongest support, and in which he resides, the Federal senators were chosen, when at the last election, from the prevalence of Jacobinism, the anti-Federal ticket had the greater number of votes.
I fear I shall be tho’t impertinent in descending to these minute observations; but our passions have been exceedingly engaged in the progress of the election and we are very apprehensive that an opinion, prevailing in the neighbouring states, that anti-Federalism was taking strong ground in Massachusetts, would give activity and resolution to a restless, desperate faction, to be found in every part of the Union. It seems, to have set up its gods in Virginia, whose reason and law, wisdom and patriotism, honor and integrity, are immolated upon their Altars.
The next election of President will be an important event. If I had not already imposed on your Excellency’s patience beyond all reasonable limit, I would state the views and intentions of the Federalists in the State, upon that subject. I will now only say, that a number of them have felt exceedingly hurt at the persevering plan of the new French mission, and have also been chagrined at the political importance the President’s nomination gave to Mr. Gerry, a man, who in their opinion, was undeserving of any public notice. The impressions appear now to be much worn out; and I believe that at this time the universal sentiment of the Federalists is, to support Mr. Adams, with all the activity and perseverance such a measure deserves. The Jacobins appear to be completely organized throughout the United States. The principals have their agents dispersed in every direction; and the whole body act with a union to be expected only from men, in whom no moral principles exist to create a difference of conduct resulting from a difference of sentiment. Their exertions are bent to introduce into every department of the State governments unprincipled tools of a daring faction, to render more certain the election to the Presidency, of the great arch priest of Jacobinism and infidelity. God grant that they may be caught in their own craft, and that shame and confusion may overwhelm these base plotters against the peace, safety and felicity of the United States.
As Mr. Andrews, who obliges me by taking charge of this letter, is very solicitous to pay his personal respects to your Excellency, I presume he will deliver it himself. I hope your Excellency’s indulgence for the trouble I have given you, and that you will please to attribute it to my anxiety for the prosperity of our common country, an anxiety which sometimes oppresses me, when I dare to look at what may be the fate of the United States. But your Excellency will not do me justice, unless by the persuasion that I am, with the utmost respect and sincerity,
ALEXANDER HAMILTON TO JAY.
New York, May 7, 1800.
You have been informed of the loss of our election in this City. It is also known that we have been unfortunate throughout Long Island and in Westchester. According to the returns hitherto, it is too probable that we lose our Senator for this District.
The moral certainty, therefore is that there will be an Anti-Federal Majority in the ensuing legislature, and the very high probability is that this will bring Jefferson into the Chief Magistracy, unless it be prevented by the measure which I shall now submit to your consideration, namely the immediate calling together of the existing legislature.
I am aware that there are weighty objections to the measure; but the reasons for it appear to me to outweigh the objections; and in times like this in which we live, it will not do to be overscrupulous. It is easy to sacrifice the substantial interests of society by a strict adherence to ordinary rules.
In observing this, I shall not be supposed to mean that anything ought to be done which integrity will forbid, but merely that the scruples of delicacy and propriety, as relative to a common course of things, ought to yield to the extraordinary nature of the crisis. They ought not to hinder the taking of a legal and constitutional step, to prevent an atheist in Religion and a fanatic in politics from getting possession of the helm of the State. You, Sir, know in a great degree the Anti-Federal party, but I fear that you do not know them as well as I do. ’T is a composition indeed of very incongruous materials but all tending to mischief—some of them to the overthrow of the Government by depriving it of its due energies, others of them to a Revolution after the manner of Buonaparte. I speak from indubitable facts, not from any conjectures and inferences. In proportion as the true character of the party is understood is the force of the considerations which urge to every effort to disappoint it; and it seems to me that there is a very solemn obligation to employ the means in our power. The calling of the Legislature will have for object the choosing of Electors by the people in districts. This (as Pennsylvania will do nothing) will insure a majority of votes in the United States for a Federal candidate. This measure will not fail to be approved by all the Federal Party; while it will no doubt be condemned by the opposite. As to its intrinsic nature it is justified by unequivocal reasons of public safety. The reasonable part of the world will, I believe, approve it. They will see it as a proceeding out of the common course but warranted by the particular nature of the crisis and the great cause of social order. If done the motive ought to be frankly avowed. In your communication to the Legislature they ought to be told that temporary circumstances had rendered it probable that without their interposition the executive authority of the General Government would be transferred to hands hostile to the system heretofore pursued with so much success and dangerous to the peace, happiness and order of the country; that under this impression from facts convincing to your own mind you had thought it your duty to give the existing legislature an opportunity of deliberating whether it would not be proper to interpose and endeavour to prevent so great an evil by referring the choice of electors to the people distributed into districts.
In weighing this suggestion you will doubtless bear in mind that popular governments must certainly be overturned, and while they endure prove engines of mischief, if one party will call to its aid all the resources which vice can give, and if the other, however pressing the emergency, confines itself within all the ordinary forms of delicacy and decorum. The legislature can be brought together in three weeks, so that there will be full time for the object; but none ought to be lost.
Think well, my Dear Sir, of this proposition. Appreciate the extreme danger of the crisis, and I am unusually mistaken in my view of the matter if you do not see it right and proper to adopt the measure.
Respectfully and affectionately yours,
GENERAL SCHUYLER TO JAY.
New York, May 7th, 1800.
Our Federal friends in Congress, extremly allarmed at the Success of the Anti-Fedarilsts in the recent elections in this state, and dreading the results which they are persuaded will follow the Election of Mr. Jefferson to the Presidency of the United States, has induced several of them to intrust me to write to your Excellency and to sollicit you to convene the Legislature in the hopes that an Act may be passed directing the appointment of Electors by district elections, in which case they are perfectly confident that Mr. Jefferson’s Election will be defeated and equally so that Mr. Adams and Mr. Pinkney will be elected. I am well aware, my dear Sir, that convening the Legislature for this express purpose involves embarrassment, but your enemies who are also the enemies of order and good government will be loud in their censures on the Measure, whilst, on the contrary, your friends will justify it as the only way to save a nation from more disasters, which it may and probably will experience from the mis-rule of a Man who has given such strong evidence that he was opposed to the salutary Measures of those who have been heretofore at the helm, and who is in fact pervaded with the mad French philosophy. Indeed, my Dear Sir, it is impossible to appreciate all the painful results which may ensue from Mr. Jefferson’s conduct, should he be president; the Country may be by this means involved in a war with Britain. It seems to me that these considerations will justify the Measure of calling the Legislature.
I am, my Dear Sir, with perfect Esteem.
Your Excellency’s Obedient Servant,
P. S.—Mr. Marshall is one of those who has recommended the measure above mentioned.
JAY TO THEOPHILUS PARSONS.
Albany, 1 July, 1800.
On my return from New York on Friday last, your obliging letter of the 5th of May, which arrived here during my absence, was delivered to me. I am much gratified by the information it contains, and thank you for it.
Serious apprehensions were entertained that anti-Federalism had gained considerable ground in Massachusetts; but I am happy to find from the facts you state, that appearances do not warrant the conclusions which have been drawn from them. The present aspect of our affairs is far from being agreeable. Although peculiarly blessed, and having abundant reason for content and gratitude, our nation is permitting their happiness to be put in jeopardy by the worst passions, inflamed and directed by the most reprehensible means. Whether the good sense of the people will avert the dangers which threaten them is yet to be seen.
If the sound and leading friends of their country could concur in opinion as to men and measures, their efforts would probably be successful; but unfortunately there is too little unanimity in many points, and the want of it exposes us to the hazard of many evils.
It really appears to me that the mission of our Envoys to France has been treated with too much asperity. The President declared to the Congress, that he would never send another Legation to Paris until he received assurances that it would be properly respected. As that declaration seemed to imply that when he should receive such assurances he would again send Envoys, it was not unnatural that he should conceive himself in honour bound to do so. His attachment to the dictates of honour and good faith, even supposing it to have been too scrupulous, is amiable and praiseworthy. Whether that declaration was advisable, and whether the nomination of the Envoys was made exactly in season, are questions which, like others of the same kind, may receive different answers from different men; but having nominated the Envoys and received the requisite assurances, I for my part consider the sending them as a matter of course, and I do not concur in opinion with those gentlemen who think they should nevertheless have been detained.
I regret that my absence deprived me of the pleasure of seeing the Rev. Mr. Andrews, and the more so as he would have answered my inquiries respecting many of my friends at Boston, and informed me of your health.
With the best wishes that you may now and long enjoy that valuable blessing,
I am, sir, your most obedient servant,
JAY TO HENRY VAN SCHAACK.
Albany, 23d September, 1800.
Mr. Beers, in compliance with your request, has delivered to me an extract from the Albany Register, of the 15th of last month, which contains the following erroneous statement of the expenses incurred by the United States for negotiating the treaty with Great Britain, viz.:
This statement is not a new one; it appeared in Greenleaf’s paper in March, 1797. It is calculated, and doubtless was designed, to impress an opinion that the administration of President Washington was too prodigal of the public money in the negotiation with Great Britain, and that I derived extravagant emoluments from it.
Calumny, my dear sir, has been an engine of party in all countries, and particularly in elective governments. It is an evil which, originating in the corruption of human nature, is without remedy, and consequently is to be borne patiently. The esteem of the wise and good is valuable, and to acquire and preserve it is all that ambition ought to aim at.
As to the statement in question, you are desirous to know exactly how far it deviates from the truth; and to gratify this desire I will give you a concise and accurate state of the facts.
Being at Philadelphia on official business, in May, 1794, President Washington desired me to go as Envoy to Great Britain. I earnestly endeavoured to fix his attention elsewhere; but he persevered, and I found it impossible to reconcile it with my duty to persist in declining the appointment. Circumstanced as I was, and aware of the nature of the business, of the temper of the times, and of the union of certain interests against any amicable settlement with Great Britain, personal considerations opposed my undertaking the task. When I finally yielded to the President’s request, I told him that I declined any compensation for my services—that my necessary and actual expenses only should be paid; but that my stated salary as chief justice must be continued. A vessel in ballast was chartered to carry me to England, for you will recollect that an embargo was then in operation; but in contracting for paying for this vessel, I had no agency.
The Secretary of State gave me a bill for eighteen thousand dollars, towards the expenses of the mission, and for which I was to account. All my expenses of every kind as Envoy to Great Britain, including the salary of my secretary, the expense of my passage home, and £63 sterling paid in counsel fees respecting capture cases, amounted to the sum of twelve thousand dollars and thirty-six cents; which being deducted from the before mentioned eighteen thousand dollars, left in my hands a considerable balance due to the United States.
This balance I accounted for, and settled with the Treasury in the following manner, viz.:
These facts are verified by the Treasury report of the account between the United States and me, marked No. 7373; by the auditor’s report marked No. 8330, on which is endorsed the Comptroller’s certificate; and by the Register’s certificate of the final settlement of the account.
With sentiments of esteem and regard