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The Collision - Lance Banning, Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle 
Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle, ed. and with a Preface by Lance Banning (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).
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Even as Jefferson and Madison grew more alarmed about Hamilton’s economic policies and the constitutional constructions employed to justify them, Jefferson’s private correspondence revealed equal concern with what he saw as the undemocratic tenor of comments in Philadelphia social circles, uncritical praise of the administration in John Fenno’s Gazette of the United States (the only newspaper with something like a national audience), and publications he considered unfriendly to the French Revolution and even to republican government itself. He was especially disgusted by the “Discourses on Davila,” a series published anonymously in Fenno’s Philadelphia paper, but easily recognized as an effort by Vice President John Adams to carry on his long-standing argument with French proponents of a unicameral legislature. In consequence, Jefferson left Philadelphia after the adjournment of the First Congress and approval of the national bank in the midst of a furor provoked by the appearance of an American edition of Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man. The publisher had prefaced Paine’s response to Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France with a private note in which the secretary of state had remarked that he was “extremely pleased to find … that something is at length to be publicly said against the political heresies which have sprung up among us.” In New York City, Jefferson joined with Madison for a tour up the Hudson River and Lake Champlain, through Vermont, and back to the city by way of Connecticut and Long Island. Before departing on the tour, the two of them had breakfast with the revolutionary poet and publicist Philip Freneau, a former classmate whom Madison was already urging to move to Philadelphia to launch the new newspaper that Freneau had been planning. With an aid of an offer of a position as a translator in Jefferson’s Department of State, the two Virginians eventually succeeded in this negotiation. Freneau launched his National Gazette, a semiweekly intended to compete for a national audience with the proadministration Gazette of the United States, on 31 October 1791, concurrently with the first meeting of the Second Congress and shortly before the appearance of Hamilton’s Report on Manufactures. The National Gazette’s anonymous attacks on Hamilton and his allies, escalating gradually into the spring, were a landmark in the transformation of a quarrel among the members of the new government into a public and national dispute.
james madison Essays for the National Gazette 1792
Madison prepared at least seventeen anonymous essays for the National Gazette during the meeting of the first session of the Second Congress. He added two more before the meeting of the second session in the fall. Intermixed with essays by Freneau himself and by unidentified writers signing their pieces with pseudonyms such as “Caius,” “Brutus,” or “Sidney,” Madison’s essays were part of a gradually escalating campaign against Hamiltonian political economy, broad construction of the Constitution, and growing criticism of the revolutionary experiment in France. The examples offered below provide a sound introduction to the breadth and depth of this attack.
“Consolidation” 3 December 1791
Much has been said, and not without reason, against a consolidation of the states into one government. Omitting lesser objections, two consequences would probably flow from such a change in our political system, which would justify the cautions used against it. First, it would be impossible to avoid the dilemma of either relinquishing the present energy and responsibility of a single executive magistrate for some plural substitute, which by dividing so great a trust might lessen the danger of it, or suffering so great an accumulation of powers in the hands of that officer as might by degrees transform him into a monarch. The incompetency of one legislature to regulate all the various objects belonging to the local governments would evidently force a transfer of many of them to the executive department, whilst the increasing splendor and number of its prerogatives supplied by this source might prove excitements to ambition too powerful for a sober execution of the elective plan, and consequently strengthen the pretexts for a hereditary designation of the magistrate. Second, were the state governments abolished, the same space of country that would produce an undue growth of the executive power would prevent that control on the legislative body which is essential to a faithful discharge of its trust; neither the voice nor the sense of ten or twenty millions of people, spread through so many latitudes as are comprehended within the United States, could ever be combined or called into effect if deprived of those local organs through which both can now be conveyed. In such a state of things, the impossibility of acting together might be succeeded by the inefficacy of partial expressions of the public mind and this, at length, by a universal silence and insensibility, leaving the whole government to that self-directed course which, it must be owned, is the natural propensity of every government.
But if a consolidation of the states into one government be an event so justly to be avoided, it is not less to be desired, on the other hand, that a consolidation should prevail in their interests and affections. … In proportion as uniformity is found to prevail in the interests and sentiments of the several states, will be the practicability of accommodating legislative regulations to them, and thereby of withholding new and dangerous prerogatives from the executive. Again, the greater the mutual confidence and affection of all parts of the Union, the more likely they will be to concur amicably or to differ with moderation in the elective designation of the chief magistrate, and by such examples to guard and adorn the vital principle of our republican constitution. Lastly, the less the supposed difference of interests and the greater the concord and confidence throughout the great body of the people, the more readily must they sympathize with each other, the more seasonably can they interpose a common manifestation of their sentiments, the more certainly will they take the alarm at usurpation or oppression, and the more effectually will they consolidate their defense of the public liberty.
Here, then, is a proper object presented, both to those who are most jealously attached to the separate authority reserved to the states and to those who may be more inclined to contemplate the people of America in the light of one nation. Let the former continue to watch against every encroachment which might lead to a gradual consolidation of the states into one government. Let the latter employ their utmost zeal, by eradicating local prejudices and mistaken rivalships, to consolidate the affairs of the states into one harmonious interest; and let it be the patriotic study of all to maintain the various authorities established by our complicated system, each in its respective constitutional sphere, and to erect over the whole one paramount empire of reason, benevolence, and brotherly affection.
“Charters” 18 January 1792
In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example and France has followed it of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world may, with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the most consoling presage of its happiness. We look back, already, with astonishment, at the daring outrages committed by despotism on the reason and the rights of man; We look forward with joy to the period when it shall be despoiled of all its usurpations and bound for ever in the chains with which it had loaded its miserable victims.
In proportion to the value of this revolution, in proportion to the importance of instruments every word of which decides a question between power and liberty, in proportion to the solemnity of acts proclaiming the will and authenticated by the seal of the people, the only earthly source of authority, ought to be the vigilance with which they are guarded by every citizen in private life and the circumspection with which they are executed by every citizen in public trust.
As compacts, charters of government are superior in obligation to all others, because they give effect to all others. As trusts, none can be more sacred, because they are bound on the conscience by the religious sanctions of an oath. As metes and bounds of government, they transcend all other landmarks, because every public usurpation is an encroachment on the private right, not of one, but of all.
The citizens of the United States have peculiar motives to support the energy of their constitutional charters.
Having originated the experiment, their merit will be estimated by its success.
The complicated form of their political system, arising from the partition of government between the states and the union, and from the separations and subdivisions of the several departments in each, requires a more than common reverence for the authority which is to preserve order thro’ the whole.
Being republicans, they must be anxious to establish the efficacy of popular charters in defending liberty against power and power against licentiousness; and in keeping every portion of power within its proper limits, by this means discomfiting the partizans of anti-republican contrivances for the purpose.
All power has been traced up to opinion. The stability of all governments and security of all rights may be traced to the same source. The most arbitrary government is controlled where the public opinion is fixed. The despot of Constantinople dares not lay a new tax, because every slave thinks he ought not. The most systematic governments are turned by the slightest impulse from their regular path, when the public opinion no longer holds them in it. We see at this moment the executive magistrate of Great-Britain exercising under the authority of the representatives of the people a legislative power over the West-India commerce.
How devoutly is it to be wished, then, that the public opinion of the United States should be enlightened, that it should attach itself to their governments as delineated in the great charters, derived not from the usurped power of kings, but from the legitimate authority of the people; and that it should guarantee, with a holy zeal, these political scriptures from every attempt to add to or diminish from them. Liberty and order will never be perfectly safe until a trespass on the constitutional provisions for either, shall be felt with the same keenness that resents an invasion of the dearest rights; until every citizen shall be an Argus to espy, and an Aegeon to avenge, the unhallowed deed.
“Parties” 23 January 1792
In every political society, parties are unavoidable. A difference of interests, real or supposed, is the most natural and fruitful source of them. The great object should be to combat the evil: 1. By establishing a political equality among all; 2. By witholding unnecessary opportunities from a few to increase the inequality of property by an immoderate, and especially an unmerited, accumulation of riches; 3. By the silent operation of laws which, without violating the rights of property, reduce extreme wealth towards a state of mediocrity and raise extreme indigence towards a state of comfort; 4. By abstaining from measures which operate differently on different interests, and particularly such as favor one interest at the expense of another; 5. By making one party a check on the other so far as the existence of parties cannot be prevented nor their views accommodated. If this is not the language of reason, it is that of republicanism.
In all political societies, different interests and parties arise out of the nature of things, and the great art of politicians lies in making them checks and balances to each other. Let us then increase these natural distinctions by favoring an inequality of property; and let us add to them artificial distinctions, by establishing kings and nobles and plebians. We shall then have the more checks to oppose to each other: we shall then have the more scales and the more weights to perfect and maintain the equilibrium. This is as little the voice of reason as it is that of republicanism.
From the expediency, in politics, of making natural parties mutual checks on each other, to infer the propriety of creating artificial parties, in order to form them into mutual checks, is not less absurd than it would be, in ethics, to say that new vices ought to be promoted, where they would counteract each other, because this use may be made of existing vices.
“Government of the United States” 4 February 1792
Power being found by universal experience liable to abuses, a distribution of it into separate departments has become a first principle of free governments. By this contrivance, the portion entrusted to the same hands being less, there is less room to abuse what is granted; and the different hands being interested, each in maintaining its own, there is less opportunity to usurp what is not granted. Hence the merited praise of governments modelled on a partition of their powers into legislative, executive, and judiciary, and a repartition of the legislative into different houses.
The political system of the United States claims still higher praise. The power delegated by the people is first divided between the general government and the state governments, each of which is then subdivided into legislative, executive, and judiciary departments. And as in a single government these departments are to be kept separate and safe, by a defensive armour for each; so, it is to be hoped, do the two governments possess each the means of preventing or correcting unconstitutional encroachments of the other.
Should this improvement on the theory of free government not be marred in the execution, it may prove the best legacy ever left by lawgivers to their country, and the best lesson ever given to the world by its benefactors. If a security against power lies in the division of it into parts mutually controlling each other, the security must increase with the increase of the parts into which the whole can be conveniently formed.
It must not be denied that the task of forming and maintaining a division of power between different governments is greater than among different departments of the same government, because it may be more easy (though sufficiently difficult) to separate, by proper definitions, the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers, which are more distinct in their nature, than to discriminate by precise enumerations one class of legislative powers from another class, one class of executive from another class, and one class of judiciary from another class, where the powers being of a more kindred nature, their boundaries are more obscure and run more into each other.
If the task be difficult, however, it must by no means be abandoned. Those who would pronounce it impossible offer no alternative to their country but schism or consolidation, both of them bad, but the latter the worst, since it is the high road to monarchy, than which nothing worse, in the eye of republicans, could result from the anarchy implied in the former.
Those who love their country, its repose, and its republicanism, will therefore study to avoid the alternative, by elucidating and guarding the limits which define the two governments, by inculcating moderation in the exercise of the powers of both, and particularly a mutual abstinence from such as might nurse present jealousies or engender greater.
In bestowing the eulogies due to the partitions and internal checks of power, it ought not the less to be remembered that they are neither the sole nor the chief palladium of constitutional liberty. The people, who are the authors of this blessing, must also be its guardians. Their eyes must be ever ready to mark, their voice to pronounce, and their arm to repel or repair aggressions on the authority of their constitutions, the highest authority next to their own, because the immediate work of their own, and the most sacred part of their property, as recognizing and recording the title to every other.
“Republican Distribution of Citizens” 3 March 1792
A perfect theory on this subject would be useful, not because it could be reduced to practice by any plan of legislation, or ought to be attempted by violence on the will or property of individuals, but because it would be a monition against empirical experiments by power, and a model to which the free choice of occupations by the people might gradually approximate the order of society.
The best distribution is that which would most favor health, virtue, intelligence and competency in the greatest number of citizens. It is needless to add to these objects liberty and safety. The first is presupposed by them. The last must result from them.
The life of the husbandman is pre-eminently suited to the comfort and happiness of the individual. Health, the first of blessings, is an appurtenance of his property and his employment. Virtue, the health of the soul, is another part of his patrimony, and no less favored by his situation. Intelligence may be cultivated in this as well as in any other walk of life. If the mind be less susceptible of polish in retirement than in a crowd, it is more capable of profound and comprehensive efforts. Is it more ignorant of some things? It has a compensation in its ignorance of others. Competency is more universally the lot of those who dwell in the country, when liberty is at the same time their lot. The extremes both of want and of waste have other abodes. ’Tis not the country that peoples either the Bridewells or the Bedlams. These mansions of wretchedness are tenanted from the distresses and vices of overgrown cities.
The condition to which the blessings of life are most denied is that of the sailor. His health is continually assailed and his span shortened by the stormy element to which he belongs. His virtue, at no time aided, is occasionally exposed to every scene that can poison it. His mind, like his body, is imprisoned within the bark that transports him. Though traversing and circumnavigating the globe, he sees nothing but the same vague objects of nature, the same monotonous occurrences in ports and docks; and at home in his vessel, what new ideas can shoot from the unvaried use of the ropes and the rudder, or from the society of comrades as ignorant as himself. In the supply of his wants he often feels a scarcity, seldom more than a bare sustenance; and if his ultimate prospects do not embitter the present moment, it is because he never looks beyond it. How unfortunate that in the intercourse by which nations are enlightened and refined, and their means of safety extended, the immediate agents should be distinguished by the hardest condition of humanity.
The great interval between the two extremes is, with a few exceptions, filled by those who work the materials furnished by the earth in its natural or cultivated state.
It is fortunate in general, and particularly for this country, that so much of the ordinary and most essential consumption takes place in fabrics which can be prepared in every family, and which constitute indeed the natural ally of agriculture. The former is the work within doors, as the latter is without; and each being done by hands or at times that can be spared from the other, the most is made of every thing.
The class of citizens who provide at once their own food and their own raiment may be viewed as the most truly independent and happy. They are more: they are the best basis of public liberty, and the strongest bulwark of public safety. It follows that the greater the proportion of this class to the whole society, the more free, the more independent, and the more happy must be the society itself.
In appreciating the regular branches of manufacturing and mechanical industry, their tendency must be compared with the principles laid down, and their merits graduated accordingly. Whatever is least favorable to vigor of body, to the faculties of the mind, or to the virtues or the utilities of life, instead of being forced or fostered by public authority, ought to be seen with regret as long as occupations more friendly to human happiness lie vacant.
The several professions of more elevated pretensions, the merchant, the lawyer, the physician, the philosopher, the divine, form a certain proportion of every civilized society, and readily adjust their numbers to its demands and its circumstances.
“Fashion” 20 March 1792
A humble address has been lately presented to the Prince of Wales by the buckle manufacturers of Birmingham, Wassal, Wolverhampton, and their environs, stating that the buckle trade gives employment to more than twenty thousand persons, numbers of whom, in consequence of the prevailing fashion of shoestrings & slippers, are at present without employ, almost destitute of bread, and exposed to the horrors of want at the most inclement season; that to the manufactures of buckles and buttons, Birmingham owes its important figure on the map of England, that it is to no purpose to address FASHION herself, she being void of feeling and deaf to argument, but fortunately accustomed to listen to his voice, and to obey his commands: and finally, imploring his Royal Highness to consider the deplorable condition of their trade, which is in danger of being ruined by the mutability of fashion, and to give that direction to the public taste, which will insure the lasting gratitude of the petitioners.
Several important reflections are suggested by this address.
I. The most precarious of all occupations which give bread to the industrious are those depending on mere fashion, which generally changes so suddenly, and often so considerably, as to throw whole bodies of people out of employment.
II. Of all occupations those are the least desirable in a free state which produce the most servile dependence of one class of citizens on another class. This dependence must increase as the mutuality of wants is diminished. Where the wants on one side are the absolute necessaries and on the other are neither absolute necessaries, nor result from the habitual economy of life, but are the mere caprices of fancy, the evil is in its extreme; or if not,
III. The extremity of the evil must be in the case before us, where the absolute necessaries depend on the caprices of fancy and the caprice of a single fancy directs the fashion of the community. Here the dependence sinks to the lowest point of servility. We see a proof of it in the spirit of the address. Twenty thousand persons are to get or go without their bread as a wanton youth may fancy to wear his shoes with or without straps, or to fasten his straps with strings or with buckles. Can any despotism be more cruel than a situation in which the existence of thousands depends on one will, and that will on the most slight and fickle of all motives, a mere whim of the imagination.
IV. What a contrast is here to the independent situation and manly sentiments of American citizens, who live on their own soil, or whose labour is necessary to its cultivation, or who were occupied in supplying wants which, being founded in solid utility, in comfortable accommodation, or in settled habits, produce a reciprocity of dependence, at once ensuring subsistence and inspiring a dignified sense of social rights.
V. The condition of those who receive employment and bread from the precarious source of fashion and superfluity is a lesson to nations, as well as to individuals. In proportion as a nation consists of that description of citizens, and depends on external commerce, it is dependent on the consumption and caprice of other nations. If the laws of propriety did not forbid, the manufacturers of Birmingham, Wassal, and Wolverhampton had as real an interest in supplicating the arbiters of fashion in America as the patron they have addressed. The dependence in the case of nations is even greater than among individuals of the same nation: for besides the mutability of fashion which is the same in both, the mutability of policy is another source of danger in the former.
“Property” 27 March 1792
This term in its particular application means “that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”
In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right; and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.
In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandize, or money is called his property.
In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.
He has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions, and in the profession and practice dictated by them.
He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person.
He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.
In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.
Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.
Where there is an excess of liberty, the effect is the same, tho’ from an opposite cause.
Government is instituted to protect property of every sort, as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every man whatever is his own.
According to this standard of merit, the praise of affording a just security to property should be sparingly bestowed on a government which, however scrupulously guarding the possessions of individuals, does not protect them in the enjoyment and communication of their opinions, in which they have an equal, and in the estimation of some, a more valuable property.
More sparingly should this praise be allowed to a government where a man’s religious rights are violated by penalties, or fettered by tests, or taxed by a hierarchy. Conscience is the most sacred of all property, other property depending in part on positive law [but] the exercise of that being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man’s house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man’s conscience, which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection for which the public faith is pledged by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.
That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest. A magistrate issuing his warrants to a press gang would be in his proper functions in Turkey or Indostan, under appellations proverbial of the most compleat despotism.
That is not a just government, nor is property secure under it, where arbitrary restrictions, exemptions, and monopolies deny to part of its citizens that free use of their faculties and free choice of their occupations which not only constitute their property in the general sense of the word, but are the means of acquiring property strictly so called. What must be the spirit of legislation where a manufacturer of linen cloth is forbidden to bury his own child in a linen shroud, in order to favor his neighbor who manufactures woolen cloth; where the manufacturer and wearer of woolen cloth are again forbidden the economical use of buttons of that material, in favor of the manufacturer of buttons of other materials!
A just security to property is not afforded by that government under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species; where arbitrary taxes invade the domestic sanctuaries of the rich and excessive taxes grind the faces of the poor; where the keenness and competitions of want are deemed an insufficient spur to labor and taxes are again applied by an unfeeling policy as another spur; in violation of that sacred property, which Heaven, in decreeing man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, kindly reserved to him in the small repose that could be spared from the supply of his necessities.
If there be a government then which prides itself in maintaining the inviolability of property, which provides that none shall be taken directly even for public use without indemnification to the owner, and yet directly violates the property which individuals have in their opinions, their religion, their persons, and their faculties; nay more, which indirectly violates their property, in their actual possessions, in the labor that acquires their daily subsistence, and in the hallowed remnant of time which ought to relieve their fatigues and soothe their cares, the in[ference] will have been anticipated that such a government is not a pattern for the United States.
If the United States mean to obtain or deserve the full praise due to wise and just governments, they will equally respect the rights of property and the property in rights: they will rival the government that most sacredly guards the former; and by repelling its example in violating the latter, will make themselves a pattern to that and all other governments.
william branch giles Speech in the House of Representatives on the Apportionment Bill 9 April 1792
As public controversy mounted, the House of Representatives increasingly divided across a broad range of issues between Madison’s allies and supporters of administration programs. Among the most vocal of the Madisonians was a young, new congressman from Virginia, who would remain active in national politics for many years to come. Giles’s speech on reapportioning (and enlarging) the House in accord with the Census of 1790 was perhaps the earliest to accuse Hamilton and his supporters of a deliberate design to subvert American liberty.
… He observed that all representative governments appeared to possess a natural tendency from republicanism to monarchy; that great inequalities in the distribution of wealth among individuals, consequent upon the progress of all governments, appeared to be the cause of their political evolutions; that no competent remedy against this evil had been heretofore discovered, or at least practically applied by any government; that perhaps this great political light may first shine forth through the medium of the American constitutions, and serve, as some others have previously done, to illumine not only the American, but the European world.
The peculiar circumstances of the United States, however, since the late Revolution, and in the infancy of the American governments, favored extremely this natural principle of the growing inequality in the distribution of wealth amongst individuals. An extensive, unexhausted, fertile country furnished full scope for agriculture, the plenty and cheapness of provisions and rude materials for manufactures, and an unshackled commerce for the merchant; and to these were added the blessings of peace and laws securing to the individual the exclusive possession of the fruits of his own industry, however abundant. There were intrinsic circumstances; there was a contingent one. A public debt—the price of the Revolution itself and its consequent blessings—had been incurred and, from the imbecility of the then existing Confederacy and other causes, was depreciated considerably below its nominal value; but it was then in small masses and not very unequally spread amongst the individuals throughout the whole United States. The Government of the United States, instead of managing this contingent circumstance with caution, and declaring so in its ministration, seized upon it with its fiscal arrangements and applied it as the most powerful machine to stimulate this growing inequality in the distribution of wealth—a principle perhaps too much favored by other existing causes. The Government, not satisfied with the debts contracted by the former Confederacy, assumed the payment of a great proportion of the debts contracted by the respective state governments and established funds for paying the interest of the whole. This measure produced two effects, not very desirable amongst individuals. It gathered these scattered debts, at a very inferior price, from the hands of the many and placed them into the hands of the few; and it stimulates the value of them. Thus collected into greater masses, beyond all calculation, by the artificial application of fiscal mechanism, it produced a variety of serious effects with respect to the Government. In opposition to the agricultural or republican, it enlisted a great moneyed interest in the United States, who, having embarked their fortunes with the Government, would go all lengths with its Administration, whether right or wrong, virtuous or vicious, by rendering the debt but partially redeemable, passing perpetual tax laws, and mortgaging their products to the payment of the interest of this perpetually existing debt. It gave the Executive a qualified control over the best moneyed resources of the United States, not contemplated by the Constitution, nor founded in wisdom. It gave rise to an unauthorized incorporation of the moneyed interest, and placed it as far as possible from the reach of future Legislative influence. It established the doctrine that one systematic financier was better able to originate money bills and tax the people of the United States than the whole collected wisdom of their Representatives, with the aid of a reciprocity of feeling. It gave rise to the idea of a Sinking Fund, without limitation as to amount, to be placed in the hands of a few trustees and there to be protected from Legislative control by all the sanctions and securities annexed to private property. In short, it established the doctrine that all authority could be more safely intrusted to, and better executed by a few, than by many; and, in pursuance of this idea, made more continual drafts of authority from the Representative branch of the Government and placed it in the hands of the Executive; lessening, by this mechanism of administration, the constitutional influence of the people in the Government and fundamentally changing its native genius and original principle. He (Mr. G) knew of no competent remedy against the abominable evils to be apprehended from the future operation of these unhallowed principles but a permanent establishment of the candid or Republican interest in this House; and the best chance of effecting this great object he conceived to be a full representation of the people. His alarms respecting these fashionable, energetic principles were greatly increased by a perspective view of some of the proposed measures of Government. He saw systems introduced to carve out of the common rights of one part of the community privileges, monopolies, exclusive rights, &c., for the benefit of another, with no other view, in his opinion, but to create nurseries of immediate dependants upon the Government, whose interest will always stimulate them to support its measures, however iniquitous and tyrannical, and, indeed, the very emoluments which will compose the price of their attachment to the Government will grow out of a tyrannical violation of the rights of others. He would forbear to mention a variety of other circumstances to prove that principle[s] having a tendency to change the very nature of the Government have pervaded even the minutest ramifications of its fiscal arrangements, nor would he dwell upon the undue influence to be apprehended from moneyed foreigners, who had become adventurers in the funds, nor the various avenues opened to facilitate the operation of corruption. He would merely remark that, acting under impressions produced by these considerations and strengthened by others not less pertinent and important, suggested by a number of gentlemen, in the course of the discussion of this subject, and believing that a full representation of the people will furnish the only chance of remedy for the existing and a competent protection against future evils, he should feel himself criminal if by his vote he should give up a single representative authorized by the Constitution. … The Government of America was now in a state of puberty, that is, at this time. She is to assume a fixed character, and he thought it in some degree rested upon the vote now to be given whether she would preserve the simplicity, chastity, and purity of her native representation and Republicanism, in which alone the true dignity and greatness of her character must consist; or whether she will, so early in youth, prostitute herself to the venal and borrowed artifices and corruptions of a stale and pampered monarchy? Whatever his own opinions or suspicions may be respecting the tendency of the present Administration, and whatever may be the discussion of today, he should still preserve a hope that the increased representation, supported by the enlightened spirit of the people at large, will form an effectual resistance to the pressure of the whole vices of the Administration and may yet establish the Government upon a broad, permanent, and republican basis… .
Letters of Fisher Ames to George Richards Minot 1791–1792
On the other side of the House, the letters of Fisher Ames, the acerbic congressman from Massachusetts who would be a leading Federalist speaker and writer well into the Jeffersonian ascendancy, were another indicator of sharpening feelings.
30 November 1791
… The remark so often made on the difference of opinion between the members [of Congress] from the two ends of the continent appears to me not only true, but founded on causes which are equally unpleasant and lasting. To the northward, we see how necessary it is to defend property by steady laws. Shays confirmed our habits and opinions. The men of sense and property, even a little above the multitude, wish to keep the government in force enough to govern. We have trade, money, credit, and industry, which is at once cause and effect of the others.
At the southward, a few gentlemen govern; the law is their coat of mail; it keeps off the weapons of the foreigners, their creditors, and at the same time it governs the multitude, secures negroes, etc., which is of double use to them. It is both government and anarchy, and in each case is better than any possible change, especially in favor of an exterior (or federal) government of any strength. … Therefore, and for other causes, the men of weight in the four southern states (Charleston city excepted) were more generally antis and are now far more turbulent than they are with us. Many were federal among them at first, because they needed some remedy to evils which they saw and felt, but mistook, in their view of it, the remedy. A debt-compelling government is no remedy to men who have lands and negroes, and debts and luxury, but neither trade nor credit, nor cash, nor the habits of industry, or of submission to a rigid execution of law. My friend, you will agree with me that, ultimately, the same system of strict law which has done wonders for us would promote their advantage. But that relief is speculative and remote. Enormous debts required something better and speedier. I am told that, to this day, no British debt is recovered in North Carolina. … You will agree that our immediate wants were different—we to enforce, they to relax, law… .
Patrick Henry and some others of eminent talents and influence have continued antis, and have assiduously nursed the embryos of faction, which the adoption of the Constitution did not destroy. It soon gave popularity to the antis with a grumbling multitude. It made two parties.
Most of the measures of Congress have been opposed by the southern members. I speak not merely of their members, but their gentlemen, etc. at home. As men, they are mostly enlightened, clever fellows. I speak of the tendency of things upon their politics, not their morals. This has sharpened discontent at home. The funding system, they say, is in favor of the moneyed interest, oppressive to the land; that is, favorable to us, hard on them. They pay tribute, they say, and the middle and eastern people, holders of seven eighths of the debt, receive it. And here is the burden of the song: almost all the little that they had, and which cost them twenty shillings for supplies or services, has been bought up at a low rate, and now they pay more tax towards the interest than they received for the paper. This tribute, they say, is aggravating, for all the reasons before given; they add, had the state debts not been assumed, they would have wiped it off among themselves very speedily and easily. Being assumed, it has become a great debt; and now an excise, that abhorrence of free states, must pay it. This they have never adopted in their states. The states of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia are large territories. Being strong and expecting by increase to be stronger, the government of Congress over them seems mortifying to their state pride. The pride of the strong is not soothed by yielding to a stronger. How much there is, and how much more can be made of all these themes of grief and anger by men who are inclined and qualified to make the most of them, need not be pointed out to a man who has seen so much and written so well upon the principles which disturb and endanger government.
I confess I have recited these causes rather more at length than I had intended. But you are an observer, and I hope will be a writer of our history. The picture I have drawn, though just, is not noticed. Public happiness is in our power as a nation. Tranquillity has smoothed the surface. But (what I have said of southern parties is so true that I may affirm) faction glows within like a coal-pit. The President lives—is a southern man, is venerated as a demi-god, he is chosen by unanimous vote, etc., etc. Change the key and … You can fill up the blank. But while he lives, a steady prudent system by Congress may guard against the danger. Peace will enrich our southern friends. Good laws will establish more industry and economy. The peculiar causes of discontent will have lost their force with time. Yet, circumstanced as they are, I think other subjects of uneasiness will be found. For it is impossible to administer the government according to their ideas. We must have a revenue; of course an excise. The debt must be kept sacred; the rights of property must be held inviolate. We must, to be safe, have some regular force and an efficient militia. All these, except the last, and that except in a form not worth having, are obnoxious to them. I have not noticed what they call their republicanism, because having observed what their situation is, you will see what their theory must be, in seeing what it is drawn from. I have not exhausted, but I quit this part of the subject. In fine, those three states are circumstanced not unlike our state in 1786.
I think these deductions flow from the premises: That the strength as well as hopes of the Union reside with the middle and eastern states. That our good men must watch and pray on all proper occasions for the preservation of federal measures and principles. That so far from being in a condition to swallow up the state governments, Congress cannot be presumed to possess too much force to preserve its constitutional authority, whenever the crisis to which these discontents are hastening shall have brought its power to the test. And, above all, that in the supposed crisis, the state partisans who seem to wish to clip the wings of the Union would be not the least zealous to support the Union. For, zealous as they may be to extend the power of the General Court of Massachusetts, they would not wish to be controlled by that of Virginia. I will not tire you with more speculation; but I will confess my belief that if, now, a vote was to be taken, “Shall the Constitution be adopted,” and the people of Virginia and the other more southern states (the city of Charleston excepted) should answer instantly, according to their present feelings and opinions, it would be in the negative… .
8 March 1792
My Dear Friend,—Congress moves slowly, too slowly. The spirit of debate is a vice that grows by indulgence. It is a sort of captiousness that delights in nothing but contradiction. Add to this, we have near twenty antis, dragons watching the tree of liberty, and who consider every strong measure, and almost every ordinary one, as an attempt to rob the tree of its fair fruit. We hear, incessantly, from the old foes of the Constitution, “this is unconstitutional, and that is”; and indeed, what is not? I scarce know a point which has not produced this cry, not excepting a motion for adjourning. If the Constitution is what they affect to think it, their former opposition to such a nonentity was improper. I wish they would administer it a little more in conformity to their first creed. The men who would hinder all that is done, and almost all that ought to be done, hang heavy on the debates. The fishery bill was unconstitutional; it is unconstitutional to receive plans of finance from the Secretary; to give bounties; to make the militia worth having; order is unconstitutional; credit is tenfold worse… .
3 May 1792
I am tired of the session. Attending Congress is very like going to school. Every day renews the round of yesterday; and if I stay a day or two after the adjournment, I shall be apt to go to Congress from habit, as some old horses are said to go to the meeting-house on Sunday without a rider, by force of their long habit of going on that day… .
Causes which I have in a former letter explained to you have generated a regular, well-disciplined opposition party, whose leaders cry “liberty,” but mean, as all party leaders do, “power,” who will write and talk and caress weak and vain men till they displace their rivals. The poor Vice will be baited before the election. All the arts of intrigue will be practiced—but more of this when we meet… .
philip freneau “Rules for Changing a Limited Republican Government into an Unlimited Hereditary One” 4 and 7 July 1792
By midsummer 1792, the National Gazette was in full cry against the Hamiltonian program and the critics of the French. The following satire encapsulated nearly all of the opposition’s charges.
I. It being necessary, in order to effect the change, to get rid of constitutional shackles and popular prejudices, all possible means and occasions are to be used for both these purposes.
II. Nothing being more likely to prepare the vulgar mind for aristocratical ranks and hereditary powers than titles, endeavor in the offset of the government to confer those on its most dignified officers. If the principal magistrate should happen to be particularly venerable in the eyes of the people, take advantage of that fortunate circumstance in setting the example.
III. Should the attempt fail, thro’ his republican aversion to it, or from the danger of alarming the people, do not abandon the enterprise altogether, but lay up the proposition in record. Time may gain it respect, and it will be there always ready cut and dried for any favourable conjuncture that may offer.
IV. In drawing all bills, resolutions, and reports, keep constantly in view that the limitations in the constitution are ultimately to be explained away. Precedents and phrases may thus be shuffled in, without being adverted to by candid or weak people, of which good use may afterwards be made.
V. As the novelty and bustle of inaugurating the government will for some time keep the public mind in a heedless and unsettled state, let the Press during this period be busy in propagating the doctrines of monarchy and aristocracy. For this purpose it will be particularly useful to confound a mobbish democracy with a representative republic, that by exhibiting all the turbulent examples and enormities of the former, an odium may be thrown on the character of the latter. Review all the civil contests, convulsions, factions, broils, squabbles, bickerings, black eyes and bloody noses of ancient, middle and modern ages, caricature them into the most frightful forms and colors that can be imagined, and unfold one scene of the horrible tragedy after another ’till the people be made, if possible, to tremble at their own shadows.—Let the Discourses on [Davila]—then contrast with these pictures of terror the quiet of hereditary succession, the reverence claimed by birth and nobility, and the fascinating influence of stars, ribbands, and garters, cautiously suppressing all the bloody tragedies and unceasing oppressions which form the history of this species of government. No pains should be spared in this part of the undertaking, for the greatest will be wanted, it being extremely difficult, especially when a people have been taught to reason and feel their rights, to convince them that a king who is always an enemy to the people, and a nobility who are perhaps still more so, will take better care of the people than the people will take care of themselves.
VI. But the grand nostrum will be a public debt, provided enough of it can be got, and it be medicated with the proper ingredients. If by good fortune a debt be ready at hand, the most is to be made of it. Stretch it and swell it to the utmost the items will bear. Allow as many extra claims as decency will permit. Assume all the debts of your neighbours: In a word, get as much debt as can be raked and scraped together, and when you have got all you can, “advertise” for more, and have the debt made as big as possible. This object being accomplished, the next will be to make it as perpetual as possible, and the next to that, to get it into as few hands as possible. The more effectually to bring this about, modify the debt, complicate it, divide it, subdivide it, subtract it, postpone it, let there be one third of two thirds: let there be three per cents, and four per cents, and six per cents, and present six per cents, and future six per cents. To be brief, let the whole be such a mystery that a few only can understand it; and let all possible opportunities and informations fall in the way of these few, to clinch their advantage over the many.
VII. It must not be forgotten that the members of the legislative body are to have a deep stake in the game. This is an essential point, and happily is attended with no difficulty. A sufficient number, properly disposed, can alternately legislate and speculate, and speculate and legislate, and buy and sell, and sell and buy, until a due portion of the property of their constituents has passed into their hands to give them an interest against their constituents, and to ensure the part they are to act. All this however must be carried on under cover of the closest secrecy; and it is particularly lucky that dealings in paper admit of more secrecy than any other. Should a discovery take place, the whole plan may be blown up.
VIII. The ways in which a great debt, so constituted and applied, will contribute to the ultimate end in view are both numerous and obvious. 1. The favorite few, thus possessed of it, whether within or without the government, will feel the staunchest fealty to it, and will go through thick and thin to support it in all its oppressions and usurpations. 2. Their money will give them consequence and influence, even among those who have been tricked out of it. 3. They will be the readiest materials that can be found for an hereditary aristocratic order, and whenever matters are ripe for one. 4. A great debt will require great taxes, great taxes many taxgatherers & other officers; & all officers are auxiliaries of power. 5. Heavy taxes may produce discontents; these may threaten resistance; and in proportion to this danger will be the pretence of a standing army to repel it. 6. A standing army in its turn will increase the moral force of the government by means of its appointments, and give it physical force by means of the sword, thus doubly forwarding the main object.
IX. The management of a great funded debt and an extensive system of taxes will afford a plea not to be neglected for establishing a great incorporated bank. The use of such a machine is well understood. If the constitution, according to its fair meaning, should not authorize it, so much the better. Push it through by a forced meaning, and you will get in the bargain an admirable precedent for future misconstructions. In fashioning the bank remember that it is to be made particularly instrumental in enriching and aggrandizing the elect few, who are to be called in due season to the honors and felicities of the kingdom preparing for them, and who are the pillars that must support it. It will be easy to throw the benefit entirely into their hands, and to make it a solid addition of 50, or 60, or 70 per cent to their former capitals of 800 per cent or 900 per cent without costing them a shilling, whilst it will be so difficult to explain to the people that this gain of the few is at the cost of the many, that the contrary may be boldly and safely pretended. The bank will be pregnant with other important advantages. It will admit the same men to be, at the same time, members of the bank and members of the government. The two institutions will thus be soldered together, and each made the stronger. Money will be put under the direction of the government, and the government under the direction of money. To crown the whole, the bank will have a proper interest in swelling and perpetuating the public debt and public taxes, with all the blessings of both, because its agency and its profits will be extended in exact proportion.
X. “Divide and govern” is a maxim consecrated by the experience of ages, and should be as familiar in its use to every politician as the knife he carries in his pocket. In the work here to be executed the best effects may be produced by this maxim, and with peculiar facility. An extensive republic made up of lesser republics necessarily contains various sorts of people, distinguished by local and other interests and prejudices. Let the whole group be well examined in all its parts and relations, geographical and political, metaphysical and metaphorical; let there be first a northern and a southern section by a line running east and west, and then an eastern and western section by a line running north and south. By a suitable nomenclature, the landholders cultivating different articles can be discriminated from one another, all from the class of merchants, and both from that of manufacturers. One of the subordinate republics may be represented as a commercial state, another as a navigation state, another as a manufacturing state, others as agricultural states; and although the great body of the people in each be really agricultural, and the other characters be more or less common to all, still it will be politic to take advantage of such an arrangement. Should the members of the great republic be of different sizes, and subject to little jealousies on that account, another important division will be ready formed to your hand. Add again the divisions that may be carved out of personal interests, political opinions, and local parties.—With so convenient an assortment of votes, especially with the help of the marked ones, a majority may be packed for any question with as much ease as the odd trick by an adroit gamester, and any measure whatever be carried or defeated, as the great revolution to be brought about may require. It is only necessary therefore to recommend that full use be made of the resource: and to remark that, besides the direct benefit to be drawn from these artificial divisions, they will tend to smother the true and natural one, existing in all societies between the few who are always impatient of political equality, and the many who can never rise above it; between those who are to mount to the prerogatives, and those who are to be saddled with the burthens of the hereditary government to be introduced; in one word, between the general mass of the people, attached to their republican government and republican interests, and the chosen band devoted to monarchy and mammon.
XI. As soon as sufficient progress in the intended change shall have been made, and the public mind duly prepared according to the rules already laid down, it will be proper to venture on another and a bolder step towards a removal of the constitutional land-marks. Here the aid of former encroachments, and all the other precedents and way-paving manoeuvres, will be called in of course. But, in order to render success the more certain, it will be of special moment to give the most plausible and popular name that can be found to the power that is to be usurped. It may be called, for example, a power for the common safety or the public good, or “the general welfare.” If the people should not be too much enlightened, the name will have a most imposing effect. It will escape attention that it means, in fact, the same thing with a power to do anything the government pleases “in all cases whatsoever.” To oppose the power may consequently seem to the ignorant, and be called by the artful, opposing the “general welfare,” and may be cried down under that deception. As the people, however, may not run so readily into the snare as might be wished, it will be prudent to bait it well with some specious popular interest, such as the encouragement of manufactures, or even of agriculture, taking care not even to mention any unpopular object to which the power is equally applicable, such as religion, &c. &c. &c. By this contrivance, particular classes of people may possibly be taken in who will be a valuable reinforcement. With respect to the patronage of agriculture, there is not indeed much to be expected from it. It will be too quickly seen through by the owners and tillers of the soil that to tax them with one hand and pay back a part only with the other is a losing game on their side. From the power over manufactures more is to be hoped. It will not be so easily perceived that the premium bestowed may not be equal to the circuitous tax on consumption, which pays it. There are particular reasons, too, for pushing the experiment on this class of citizens. 1. As they live in towns and can act together, it is of vast consequence to gain them over to the interest of monarchy. 2. If the power over them be once established, the government can grant favors or monopolies as it pleases; can raise or depress this or that place, as it pleases; can gratify this or that individual, as it pleases; in a word, by creating a dependence in so numerous and important a class of citizens, it will increase its own independence of every class, and be more free to pursue the grand object in contemplation. 3. The expense of this operation will not in the end cost the government a shilling, for the moment any branch of manufacture has been brought to a state of tolerable maturity, the exciseman will be ready with his constable and his search-warrant to demand a reimbursement and as much more as can be squeezed out of the article. All this, it is to be remembered, supposes that the manufacturers will be weak enough to be cheated, in some respects, out of their interests, and wicked enough, in others, to betray those of their fellow citizens, a supposition that, if known, would totally mar the experiment. Great care, therefore, must be taken to prevent it from leaking out.
XII. The expediency of seizing every occasion of external danger for augmenting and perpetuating the standing military force is too obvious to escape. So important is this matter that for any loss or disaster whatever attending the national arms, there will be ample consolation and compensation in the opportunity for enlarging the establishment. A military defeat will become a political victory, and the loss of a little vulgar blood contributes to ennoble that which flows in the veins of our future dukes and marquisses.
XIII. The same prudence will improve the opportunity afforded by an increase of the military expenditures, for perpetuating the taxes required for them. If the inconsistency and absurdity of establishing a perpetual tax for a temporary service should produce any difficulty in the business, Rule 10 must be resorted to. Throw in as many extraneous motives as will make up a majority, and the thing is effected in an instant. What was before evil will become good as easily as black could be made white by the same magical operation.
XIV. Throughout this great undertaking it will be wise to have some particular model constantly in view. The work can then be carried on more systematically, and every measure be fortified, in the progress, by apt illustrations and authorities. Should there exist a particular monarchy against which there are fewer prejudices than against any other; should it contain a mixture of the representative principle so as to present on one side the semblance of a republican aspect; should it moreover have a great, funded, complicated, irredeemable debt, with all the apparatus and appurtenances of excises, banks, &c. &c. &c. upon that a steady eye is to be kept. In all cases it will assist, and in most its statute-book will furnish a precise pattern by which there may be cut out any monied or monarchical project that may be wanted.
XV. As it is not to be expected that the change of a republic into a monarchy, with the rapidity desired, can be carried through without occasional suspicions and alarms, it will be necessary to be prepared for such events. The best general rule on the subject is to be taken from the example of crying “Stop thief” first.—Neither lungs nor pens must be spared in charging every man who whispers, or even thinks, that the revolution on foot is meditated, with being himself an enemy to the established government and meaning to overturn it. Let the charge be reiterated and reverberated, till at last such confusion and uncertainty be produced that the people, being not able to find out where the truth lies, withdraw their attention from the contest.
Many other rules of great wisdom and efficacy ought to be added: but it is conceived that the above will be abundantly enough for the purpose. This will certainly be the case if the people can be either kept asleep so as not to discover, or be thrown into artificial divisions, so as not to resist, what is silently going forward.—Should it be found impossible, however, to prevent the people from awaking and uniting; should all artificial distinctions give way to the natural division between the lordly minded few and the well-disposed many; should all who have common interest make a common cause and shew an inflexible attachment to republicanism in opposition to a government of monarchy and of money, why then ****--
Alexander Hamilton to Edward Carrington 26 May 1792
Goaded by the mounting attacks in Congress and even more concerned about the campaign in the National Gazette, by means of which the opposition to his programs threatened to spread quite widely among the public, Hamilton decided to open a counteroffensive. The first step was a letter to Edward Carrington, a Virginia collector of customs, former Confederation congressman, and ally of Hamilton and Madison in the quest for federal reform. The second step would be a public attack on Jefferson’s connection with Freneau and his gazette.
Believing that I possess a share of your personal friendship and confidence and yielding to that which I feel towards you—persuaded also that our political creed is the same on two essential points, 1st the necessity of Union to the respectability and happiness of this Country and 2. the necessity of an efficient general government to maintain that Union—I have concluded to unbosom myself to you on the present state of political parties and views. I ask no reply to what I shall say. I only ask that you will be persuaded the representations I shall make are agreeable to the real and sincere impressions of my mind. You will make the due allowances for the influence of circumstances upon it—you will consult your own observations and you will draw such a conclusion as shall appear to you proper.
When I accepted the office I now hold, it was under a full persuasion that from similarity of thinking, conspiring with personal goodwill, I should have the firm support of Mr. Madison in the general course of my administration. Aware of the intrinsic difficulties of the situation and of the powers of Mr. Madison, I do not believe I should have accepted under a different supposition.
I have mentioned the similarity of thinking between that gentleman and myself. This was relative not merely to the general principles of national policy and government but to the leading points which were likely to constitute questions in the administration of the finances. I mean 1. the expediency of funding the debt 2. the inexpediency of discrimination between original and present holders 3. the expediency of assuming the state debts.
As to the first point, the evidence of Mr. Madison’s sentiments at one period is to be found in the address of Congress of April 26, 1783, which was planned by him in conformity to his own ideas and without any previous suggestions from the committee and with his hearty cooperation in every part of the business. His conversations upon various occasions since have been expressive of a continuance in the same sentiment, nor indeed has he yet contradicted it by any part of his official conduct. How far there is reason to apprehend a change in this particular will be stated hereafter.
As to the second part, the same address is an evidence of Mr. Madison’s sentiments at the same period. And I had been informed that at a later period he had been in the Legislature of Virginia a strenuous and successful opponent of the principle of discrimination. Add to this that a variety of conversations had taken place between him and myself respecting the public debt down to the commencement of the new government in none of which had he glanced at the idea of a change of opinion. I wrote him a letter after my appointment in the recess of Congress to obtain his sentiments on the subject of the finances. In his answer there is not a lisp of his new system.
As to the third point, the question of an assumption of the state debts by the United States was in discussion when the convention that framed the present government was sitting at Philadelphia; and in a long conversation, which I had with Mr. Madison in an afternoon’s walk, I well remember that we were perfectly agreed in the expediency and propriety of such a measure, though we were both of opinion that it would be more advisable to make it a measure of administration than an article of constitution; from the impolicy of multiplying obstacles to its reception on collateral details.
Under these circumstances, you will naturally imagine that it must have been a matter of surprise to me when I was apprised that it was Mr. Madison’s intention to oppose my plan on both the last mentioned points.
Before the debate commenced, I had a conversation with him on my report, in the course of which I alluded to the calculation I had made of his sentiments and the grounds of that calculation. He did not deny them, but alledged in his justification that the very considerable alienation of the debt, subsequent to the periods at which he had opposed a discrimination, had essentially changed the state of the question—and that as to the assumption, he had contemplated it to take place as matters stood at the peace.
While the change of opinion avowed on the point of discrimination diminished my respect for the force of Mr. Madison’s mind and the soundness of his judgment—and while the idea of reserving and setting afloat a vast mass of already extinguished debt as the condition of a measure the leading objects of which were an accession of strength to the national government and an assurance of order and vigour in the national finances by doing away the necessity of thirteen complicated and conflicting systems of finance—appeared to me somewhat extraordinary: Yet my previous impressions of the fairness of Mr. Madison’s character and my reliance on his good will towards me disposed me to believe that his suggestions were sincere; and even, on the point of an assumption of the debts of the states as they stood at the peace, to lean towards a cooperation in his view; ’till on feeling the ground I found the thing impracticable, and on further reflection I thought it liable to immense difficulties. It was tried and failed with little countenance.
At this time and afterwards repeated intimations were given to me that Mr. Madison, from a spirit of rivalship or some other cause, had become personally unfriendly to me; and one gentleman in particular, whose honor I have no reason to doubt, assured me that Mr. Madison in a conversation with him had made a pretty direct attempt to insinuate unfavorable impressions of me.
Still I suspended my opinion on the subject. I knew the malevolent officiousness of mankind too well to yield a very ready acquiescience to the suggestions which were made, and resolved to wait ’till time and more experience should afford a solution.
It was not ’till the last session that I became unequivocally convinced of the following truth—“That Mr. Madison cooperating with Mr. Jefferson is at the head of a faction decidedly hostile to me and my administration, and actuated by views in my judgment subversive of the principles of good government and dangerous to the union, peace and happiness of the Country.”
These are strong expressions; they may pain your friendship for one or both of the gentlemen whom I have named. I have not lightly resolved to hazard them. They are the result of a Serious alarm in my mind for the public welfare, and of a full conviction that what I have alledged is a truth, and a truth which ought to be told and well attended to by all the friends of Union and efficient National Government. The suggestion will, I hope, at least awaken attention, free from the bias of former prepossessions.
This conviction in my mind is the result of a long train of circumstances; many of them minute. To attempt to detail them all would fill a volume. I shall therefore confine myself to the mention of a few.
First—As to the point of opposition to me and my administration.
Mr. Jefferson with very little reserve manifests his dislike of the funding system generally, calling in question the expediency of funding a debt at all. Some expressions which he has dropped in my own presence (sometimes without sufficient attention to delicacy) will not permit me to doubt on this point representations which I have had from various respectable quarters. I do not mean that he advocates directly the undoing of what has been done, but he censures the whole on principles which, if they should become general, could not but end in the subversion of the system.
In various conversations with foreigners as well as citizens, he has thrown censure on my principles of government and on my measures of administration. He has predicted that the people would not long tolerate my proceedings & that I should not long maintain my ground. Some of those, whom he immediately and notoriously moves, have even whispered suspicions of the rectitude of my motives and conduct. In the question concerning the Bank he not only delivered an opinion in writing against its constitutionality & expediency; but he did it in a style and manner which I felt as partaking of asperity and ill humour towards me. As one of the trustees of the sinking fund, I have experienced in almost every leading question opposition from him. When any turn of things in the community has threatened either odium or embarrassment to me, he has not been able to suppress the satisfaction which it gave him.
A part of this is of course information, and might be misrepresentation. But it comes through so many channels and so well accords with what falls under my own observation that I can entertain no doubt.
I find a strong confirmation in the following circumstances. Freneau, the present printer of the National Gazette, who was a journeyman with Childs & Swain at New York, was a known anti-federalist. It is reduced to a certainty that he was brought to Philadelphia by Mr. Jefferson to be the conductor of a newspaper. It is notorious that cotemporarily with the commencement of his paper he was a clerk in the department of state for foreign languages. Hence a clear inference that his paper has been set on foot and is conducted under the patronage & not against the views of Mr. Jefferson. What then is the complexion of this paper? Let any impartial man peruse all the numbers down to the present day; and I never was more mistaken, if he does not pronounce that it is a paper devoted to the subversion of me & the measures in which I have had an agency; and I am little less mistaken if he do not pronounce that it is a paper of a tendency generally unfriendly to the Government of the U States… .
With regard to Mr. Madison—the matter stands thus. I have not heard, but in the one instance to which I have alluded, of his having held language unfriendly to me in private conversation. But in his public conduct there has been a more uniform & persevering opposition than I have been able to resolve into a sincere difference of opinion. I cannot persuade myself that Mr. Madison and I, whose politics had formerly so much the same point of departure, should now diverge so widely in our opinions of the measures which are proper to be pursued. The opinion I once entertained of the candor and simplicity and fairness of Mr. Madison’s character has, I acknowledge, given way to a decided opinion that it is one of a peculiarly artificial and complicated kind.
For a considerable part of the last session, Mr. Madison lay in a great measure perdu. But it was evident from his votes & a variety of little movements and appearances that he was the prompter of Mr. Giles & others, who were the open instruments of opposition… .
Mr. Jefferson is an avowed enemy to a funded debt. Mr. Madison disavows in public any intention to undo what has been done; but in a private conversation with Mr. Charles Carroll (Senator)—this gentleman’s name I mention confidentially though he mentioned the matter to Mr. King & several other gentlemen as well as myself, & if any chance should bring you together you would easily bring him to repeat it to you—he favored the sentiment in Mr. Mercer’s speech that a legislature had no right to fund the debt by mortgaging permanently the public revenues because they had no right to bind posterity. The inference is that what has been unlawfully done may be undone… .
The discourse of partisans in the Legislature & the publications in the party newspapers direct their main battery against the principle of a funded debt, & represent it in the most odious light as a perfect Pandora’s box… .
Whatever were the original merits of the funding system, after having been so solemly adopted, & after so great a transfer of property under it, what would become of the Government should it be reversed? What of the national reputation? Upon what system of morality can so atrocious a doctrine be maintained? In me, I confess it excites indignation & horror!
What are we to think of those maxims of government by which the power of a legislature is denied to bind the nation by a Contract in an affair of property for twenty-four years? For this is precisely the case of the debt. What are to become of all the legal rights of property, of all charters to corporations, nay, of all grants to a man his heirs & assigns forever, if this doctrine be true? What is the term for which a government is in capacity to contract? Questions might be multiplied without end to demonstrate the perniciousness & absurdity of such a doctrine.
In almost all the questions great & small which have arisen since the first session of Congress, Mr. Jefferson & Mr. Madison have been found among those who were disposed to narrow the Federal authority. The question of a National Bank is one example. The question of bounties to the fisheries is another. Mr. Madison resisted it on the ground of constitutionality ’till it was evident, by the intermediate questions taken, that the bill would pass & he then under the wretched subterfuge of a change of a single word “bounty” for “allowance” went over to the majority & voted for the bill. In the Militia bill & in a variety of minor cases he has leaned to abridging the exercise of federal authority, & leaving as much as possible to the states, & he has lost no opportunity of sounding the alarm with great affected solemnity at encroachments meditated on the rights of the states, & of holding up the bugbear of a faction in the government having designs unfriendly to liberty.
This kind of conduct has appeared to me the more extraordinary on the part of Mr. Madison as I know for a certainty it was a primary article in his creed that the real danger in our system was the subversion of the national authority by the preponderancy of the state governments. All his measures have proceeded on an opposite supposition.
I recur again to the instance of Freneau’s paper. In matters of this kind one cannot have direct proof of man’s latent views; they must be inferred from circumstances. As the coadjutor of Mr. Jefferson in the establishment of this paper, I include Mr. Madison in the consequences imputable to it.
In respect to our foreign politics the views of these gentlemen are in my judgment equally unsound & dangerous. They have a womanish attachment to France and a womanish resentment against Great Britain. They would draw us into the closest embrace of the former & involve us in all the consequences of her politics, & they would risk the peace of the country in their endeavors to keep us at the greatest possible distance from the latter. This disposition goes to a length particularly in Mr. Jefferson of which, till lately, I had no adequate idea. Various circumstances prove to me that if these gentlemen were left to pursue their own course there would be in less than six months an open War between the U States & Great Britain.
I trust I have a due sense of the conduct of France towards this country in the late Revolution, & that I shall always be among the foremost in making her every suitable return; but there is a wide difference between this & implicating ourselves in all her politics; between bearing good will to her, & hating and wrangling with all those whom she hates. The neutral & the pacific policy appear to me to mark the true path to the U States.
Having now delineated to you what I conceive to be the true complexion of the politics of these gentlemen, I will now attempt a solution of these strange appearances.
Mr. Jefferson, it is known, did not in the first instance cordially acquiesce in the new constitution for the U States; he had many doubts and reserves. He left this country before we had experienced the imbecilities of the former.
In France he saw government only on the side of its abuses. He drank deeply of the French Philosophy, in religion, in science, in politics. He came from France in the moment of a fermentation which he had had a share in exciting, & in the passion and feelings of which he shared both from temperament and situation.
He came here probably with a too partial idea of his own powers, and with the expectation of a greater share in the direction of our councils than he has in reality enjoyed. I am not sure that he had not peculiarly marked out for himself the department of the Finances.
He came electrified plus with attachment to France and with the project of knitting together the two countries in the closest political bonds.
Mr. Madison had always entertained an exalted opinion of the talents, knowledge and virtues of Mr. Jefferson. The sentiment was probably reciprocal. A close correspondence subsisted between them during the time of Mr. Jefferson’s absence from this country. A close intimacy arose upon his return.
Whether any peculiar opinions of Mr. Jefferson concerning the public debt wrought a change in the sentiments of Mr. Madison (for it is certain that the former is more radically wrong than the latter) or whether Mr. Madison seduced by the expectation of popularity and possibly by the calculation of advantage to the state of Virginia was led to change his own opinion—certain it is, that a very material change took place, & that the two gentlemen were united in the new ideas. Mr. Jefferson was indiscreetly open in his approbation of Mr. Madison’s principles, upon his first coming to the seat of government. I say indiscreetly, because a gentleman in the administration in one department ought not to have taken sides against another, in another department.
The course of this business & a variety of circumstances which took place left Mr. Madison a very discontented & chagrined man and begot some degree of ill humour in Mr. Jefferson.
Attempts were made by these gentlemen in different ways to produce a commercial warfare with Great Britain. In this too they were disappointed. And as they had the liveliest wishes on the subject their dissatisfaction has been proportionally great; and as I had not favored the project, I was comprehended in their displeasure.
These causes and perhaps some others created, much sooner than I was aware of it, a systematic opposition to me on the part of those gentlemen. My subversion, I am now satisfied, has been long an object with them.
Subsequent events have encreased the spirit of opposition and the feelings of personal mortification on the part of these Gentlemen.
A mighty stand was made on the affair of the Bank. There was much commitment in that case. I prevailed.
On the Mint business I was opposed from the same quarter, & with still less success. In the affair of ways & means for the Western expedition—on the supplementary arrangements concerning the debt except as to the additional assumption, my views have been equally prevalent in opposition to theirs. This current of success on one side & defeat on the other have rendered the opposition furious, & have produced a disposition to subvert their competitors even at the expence of the Government.
Another circumstance has contributed to widening the breach. ’Tis evident beyond a question, from every movement, that Mr. Jefferson aims with ardent desire at the Presidential Chair. This too is an important object of the party-politics. It is supposed, from the nature of my former personal & political connexions, that I may favor some other candidate more than Mr. Jefferson when the question shall occur by the retreat of the present gentleman. My influence therefore with the community becomes a thing, on ambitious & personal grounds, to be resisted & destroyed.
You know how much it was a point to establish the Secretary of State as the officer who was to administer the Government in defect of the President & Vice President. Here I acknowledge, though I took far less part than was supposed, I ran counter to Mr. Jefferson’s wishes; but if I had had no other reason for it, I had already experienced opposition from him which rendered it a measure of self defense.
It is possible too (for men easily heat their imaginations when their passions are heated) that they have by degrees persuaded themselves of what they may have at first only sported to influence others—namely that there is some dreadful combination against state government & republicanism; which according to them, are convertible terms. But there is so much absurdity in this supposition that the admission of it tends to apologize for their hearts, at the expense of their heads.
Under the influence of all these circumstances, the attachment to the Government of the U States, originally weak in Mr. Jefferson’s mind, has given way to something very like dislike; in Mr. Madison’s, it is so counteracted by personal feelings as to be more an affair of the head than of the heart—more the result of a conviction of the necessity of Union than of cordiality to the thing itself. I hope it does not stand worse than this with him.
In such a state of mind, both these gentlemen are prepared to hazard a great deal to effect a change. Most of the important measures of every government are connected with the Treasury. To subvert the present head of it they deem it expedient to risk rendering the Government itself odious; perhaps foolishly thinking that they can easily recover the lost affections & confidence of the people, and not appreciating as they ought to do the natural resistance to Government which in every community results from the human passions, the degree to which this is strengthened by the organized rivality of state governments, & the infinite danger that the national government once rendered odious will be kept so by these powerful & indefatigable enemies.
They forget an old but a very just, though a coarse, saying—That it is much easier to raise the Devil than to lay him.
Poor Knox has come in for a share of their persecution as a man who generally thinks with me & who has a portion of the President’s good will & confidence.
In giving you this picture of political parties, my design is, I confess, to awaken your attention, if it has not yet been awakened to the conduct of the gentlemen in question. If my opinion of them is founded, it is certainly of great moment to the public weal that they should be understood. I rely on the strength of your mind to appreciate men as they merit—when you have a clue to their real views.
A word on another point. I am told that serious apprehensions are disseminated in your state as to the existence of a monarchical party mediating the destruction of state & republican government. If it is possible that so absurd an idea can gain ground it is necessary that it should be combatted. I assure you on my private faith and honor as a man that there is not in my judgment a shadow of foundation of it. A very small number of men indeed may entertain theories less republican than Mr. Jefferson & Mr. Madison; but I am persuaded there is not a man among them who would not regard as both criminal & visionary any attempt to subvert the republican system of the country. Most of these men rather fear that it may not justify itself by its fruits than feel a predilection for a different form; and their fears are not diminished by the factions & fanatical politics which they find prevailing among a certain set of gentlemen and threatening to disturb the tranquillity and order of the government.
As to the destruction of state governments, the great and real anxiety is to be able to preserve the national from the too potent and counteracting influence of those governments. As to my own political creed, I give it to you with the utmost sincerity. I am affectionately attached to the republican theory. I desire above all things to see the equality of political rights exclusive of all hereditary distinction firmly established by a practical demonstration of its being consistent with the order and happiness of society.
As to state governments, the prevailing bias of my judgment is that if they can be circumscribed within bounds consistent with the preservation of the national government they will prove useful and salutary. If the states were all of the size of Connecticut, Maryland or New Jersey, I should decidedly regard the local governments as both safe & useful. As the thing now is, however, I acknowledge the most serious apprehensions that the Government of the U States will not be able to maintain itself against their influence. I see that influence already penetrating into the national councils & perverting their direction.
Hence a disposition on my part towards a liberal construction of the powers of the national government and to erect every fence to guard it from depredations, which is, in my opinion, consistent with constitutional propriety.
As to the combination to prostrate the state governments, I disavow and deny it. From an apprehension lest the judiciary should not work efficiently or harmoniously I have been desirous of seeing some rational scheme of connection adopted as an amendment to the Constitution; otherwise I am for maintaining things as they are, though I doubt much the possibility of it, from a tendency in the nature of things towards the preponderancy of the state governments.
I said that I was affectionately attached to the republican theory. This is the real language of my heart which I open to you in the sincerity of friendship; & I add that I have strong hopes of the success of that theory; but in candor I ought also to add that I am far from being without doubts. I consider its success as yet a problem.
It is yet to be determined by experience whether it be consistent with that stability and order in government which are essential to public strength & private security and happiness. On the whole, the only enemy which republicanism has to fear in this country is in the spirit of faction and anarchy. If this will not permit the ends of government to be attained under it—if it engenders disorders in the community, all regular & orderly minds will wish for a change—and the demagogues who have produced the disorder will make it for their own aggrandizement. This is the old story.
If I were disposed to promote monarchy & overthrow state governments, I would mount the hobby horse of popularity—I would cry out usurpation—danger to liberty etc., etc.—I would endeavor to prostrate the national government—raise a ferment—and then “ride in the Whirlwind and direct the Storm.” That there are men acting with Jefferson & Madison who have this in view I verily believe. I could lay my finger on some of them. That Madison does not mean it I also verily believe, and I rather believe the same of Jefferson; but I read him upon the whole thus—“A man of profound ambition & violent passions.”
You must be by this time tired of my epistle. Perhaps I have treated certain characters with too much severity. I have however not meant to do them injustice—and from the bottom of my soul believe I have drawn them truly and that it is of the utmost consequence to the public weal they should be viewed in their true colors… .
An Administration Divided
On 25 July 1792, the following paragraph appeared in John Fennoâ€™s Gazette of the United States over the signature â€œT.L.â€:
The editor of the National Gazette receives a salary from government. Queryâ€”Whether this salary is paid him for translations, or for publications, the design of which is to vilify those to whom the voice of the people has committed the administration of public affairs.
In this, in two more notes over the same signature, and in a series of longer essays signed by â€œAn American,â€ all of them printed in the Gazette of the United States in July and August 1792, Hamilton went to war with his tormenters, accusing Jefferson of initially opposing the Constitution, identifying him as the leader of a determined opposition, and calling on him to resign his office if he could not support administration policies. Jeffersonâ€™s friends, led by Madison and Monroe, jumped publicly (though anonymously) to his defense, and the rival editors of the two national newspapers were soon involved in a public argument over their relative independence from the political leaders. As the argument spread by way of reprintings into New England and the South, the whole country was treated to the spectacle of a full-blown newspaper war between the great executive officials.
thomas jefferson Memorandum of a Conversation with the President 29 February 1792
… After breakfast we retired to his room & I unfolded my plan for the post-office, and after such an approbation of it as he usually permitted himself on the first presentment of any idea, and desiring me to commit it to writing, he, during that pause of conversation which follows a business closed, said in an affectionate tone that he had felt much concern at an expression which dropt from me yesterday & which marked my intention of retiring when he should. That as to himself, many motives obliged him to it. He had through the whole course of the war and most particularly at the close of it, uniformly declared his resolution to retire from public affairs & never to act in any public office; that he had retired under that firm resolution, that the government however which had been formed being found evidently too inefficacious, and it being supposed that his aid was of some consequence towards bringing the people to consent to one of sufficient efficacy for their own good, he consented to come into the [Constitutional] Convention & on the same motive, after much pressing, to take a part in the new government and get it under way. That were he to continue longer, it might give room to say that having tasted the sweets of office he could not do without them; that he really felt himself growing old, his bodily health less firm, his memory, always bad, becoming worse, and perhaps the other faculties of his mind showing a decay to others of which he was insensible himself, that this apprehension particularly oppressed him, that he found moreover his activity lessened, business therefore more irksome, and tranquility & retirement become an irresistible passion. That however he felt himself obliged for these reasons to retire from the government, yet he should consider it as unfortunate if that should bring on the retirement of the great officers of the government, and that this might produce a shock on the public mind of dangerous consequence. I told him that no man had ever had less desire of entering into public offices than myself; that the circumstance of a perilous war, which brought everything into danger & called for all the services which every citizen could render, had induced me to undertake the administration of the government of Virginia, that I had both before & after refused repeated appointments of Congress to go abroad in that sort of office, which if I had consulted my own gratification, would always have been the most agreeable to me, that at the end of two years, I resigned the government of Virginia & retired with a firm resolution never more to appear in public life, that a domestic loss however happened and made me fancy that absence & a change of scene for a time might be expedient for me, that I therefore accepted a foreign appointment limited to two years, that at the close of that, Dr. Franklin having left France, I was appointed to supply his place, which I had accepted, & tho’ I continued in it three or four years, it was under the constant idea of remaining only a year or two longer; that the revolution in France coming on, I had so interested myself in the event of that, that when obliged to bring my family home, I had still an idea of returning & awaiting the close of that to fix the era of my final retirement; that on my arrival here I found he had appointed me to my present office, that he knew I had not come into it without some reluctance, that it was on my part a sacrifice of inclination to the opinion that I might be more serviceable here than in France, & with a firm resolution in my mind to indulge my constant wish for retirement at no very distant day: that when, therefore, I received his letter written from Mount Vernon on his way to Carolina & Georgia (April 1791) and discovered from an expression in that that he meant to retire from the government ere long, & as to the precise epoch there could be no doubt, my mind was immediately made up to make that the epoch of my own retirement from those labors of which I was heartily tired. That, however, I did not believe there was any idea in either of my brethren in the administration of retiring, that on the contrary I had perceived at a late meeting of the trustees of the sinking fund that the Secretary of the Treasury had developed the plan he intended to pursue, & that it embraced years in its view.—He said that he considered the Treasury Department as a much more limited one, going only to the single object of revenue, while that of the Secretary of State, embracing nearly all the objects of administration, was much more important, & the retirement of the officer therefore would be more noticed: that tho’ the government had set out with a pretty general good will of the public, yet that symptoms of dissatisfaction had lately shown themselves far beyond what he could have expected, and to what height these might arise in case of too great a change in the administration, could not be foreseen.—
I told him that in my opinion there was only a single source of these discontents. Tho’ they had indeed appeared to spread themselves over the War Department also, yet I considered that as an overflowing only from their real channel, which would never have taken place if they had not first been generated in another department, to wit that of the treasury. That a system had there been contrived for deluging the states with paper money instead of gold & silver, for withdrawing our citizens from the pursuits of commerce, manufactures, buildings, & other branches of useful industry, to occupy themselves & their capitals in a species of gambling destructive of morality & which had introduced its poison into the government itself. That it was a fact, as certainly known as that he & I were then conversing, that particular members of the legislature, while those laws were on the carpet, had feathered their nests with paper, had then voted for the laws, and constantly since lent all the energy of their talents & instrumentality of their offices to the establishment & enlargement of this system: that they had chained it about our necks for a great length of time, & in order to keep the game in their hands had from time to time aided in making such legislative constructions of the Constitution as made it a very different thing from what the people thought they had submitted to; that they had now brought forward a proposition far beyond every one ever yet advanced, & to which the eyes of many were turned as the decision was to let us know whether we live under a limited or an unlimited government.—He asked me to what proposition I alluded? I answered to that in the Report on Manufactures which, under color of giving bounties for the encouragement of particular manufactures, meant to establish the doctrine that the power given by the Constitution to collect taxes to provide for the general welfare of the U.S. permitted Congress to take everything under their management which they should deem for the public welfare & which is susceptible of the application of money: consequently that the subsequent enumeration of their powers was not the description to which resort must be had, & did not at all constitute the limits of their authority: that this was a very different question from that of the bank, which was thought an incident to an enumerated power: that therefore this decision was expected with great anxiety: that indeed I hoped the proposition would be rejected, believing there was a majority in both houses against it, and that if it should be, it would be considered as a proof that things were returning into their true channel; & that at any rate I looked forward to the broad representation which would shortly take place for keeping the general constitution on its true ground, & that this would remove a great deal of the discontent which had shown itself. The conversation ended with this last topic. It is here stated nearly as much at length as it really was, the expressions preserved where I could recollect them, and their substance always faithfully stated.
Thomas Jefferson to George Washington 23 May 1792
I have determined to make the subject of a letter what for some time past has been a subject of inquietude to my mind without having found a good occasion of disburthening itself to you in conversation during the busy scenes which occupied you here. Perhaps too you may be able, in your present situation, or on the road, to give it more time & reflection than you could do here at any moment.
When you first mentioned to me your purpose of retiring from the government, tho’ I felt all the magnitude of the event, I was in a considerable degree silent. I knew that to such a mind as yours, persuasion was idle & impertinent: that before forming your decision, you had weighed all the reasons for & against the measure, had made up your mind on full view of them, & that there could be little hope of changing the result. Pursuing my reflections too I knew we were some day to try to walk alone; and if the essay should be made while you should be alive & looking on, we should derive confidence from that circumstance & resource if it failed. The public mind too was calm & confident, and therefore in a favorable state for making the experiment. Had no change of circumstances intervened, I should not, with any hope of success, have now ventured to propose to you a change of purpose. But the public mind is no longer confident and serene; and that from causes in which you are in no ways personally mixed. Tho these causes have been hackneyed in the public papers in detail, it may not be amiss, in order to calculate the effect they are capable of producing, to take a view of them in the mass, giving to each the form, real or imaginary, under which they have been presented.
It has been urged then that a public debt, greater than we can possibly pay before other causes of adding new debt to it will occur, has been artificially created, by adding together the whole amount of the debtor & creditor sides of accounts instead of taking only their balances, which could have been paid off in a short time: That this accumulation of debt has taken forever out of our power those easy sources of revenue which, applied to the ordinary necessities and exigencies of government, would have answered them habitually and covered us from habitual murmurings against taxes & tax-gatherers, reserving extraordinary calls for those extraordinary occasions which would animate the people to meet them. That though the calls for money have been no greater than we must generally expect for the same or equivalent exigencies, yet we are already obliged to strain the impost till it produces clamor and will produce evasion & war on our own citizens to collect it: and even to resort to an Excise law, of odious character with the people, partial in its operation, unproductive unless enforced by arbitrary & vexatious means, and committing the authority of the government in parts where resistance is most probable & coercion least practicable. They cite propositions in Congress and suspect other projects on foot still to increase the mass of debt. They say that by borrowing at 2/3 of the interest, we might have paid off the principal in 2/3 of the time: but that from this we are precluded by its being made irredeemable but in small portions & long terms: That this irredeemable quality was given it for the avowed purpose of inviting its transfer to foreign countries. They predict that this transfer of the principal, when completed, will occasion an exportation of 3 millions of dollars annually for the interest, a drain of coin of which as there has been no example, no calculation can be made of its consequences: That the banishment of our coin will be completed by the creation of 10 millions of paper money in the form of bank bills, now issuing into circulation. They think the 10 or 12 percent annual profit paid to the lenders of this paper medium taken out of the pockets of the people, who would have had without interest the coin it is banishing. That all the capital employed in paper speculation is barren & useless, producing, like that on a gaming table, no accession to itself, and is withdrawn from commerce & agriculture where it would have produced addition to the common mass: That it nourishes in our citizens habits of vice and idleness instead of industry & morality: That it has furnished effectual means of corrupting such a portion of the legislature as turns the balance between the honest voters whichever way it is directed: That this corrupt squadron, deciding the voice of the legislature, have manifested their dispositions to get rid of the limitations imposed by the Constitution on the general legislature, limitations on the faith of which the states acceded to that instrument: That the ultimate object of all this is to prepare the way for a change from the present republican form of government to that of a monarchy, of which the English constitution is to be the model. That this was contemplated in the Convention is no secret, because its partisans have made none of it. To effect it then was impracticable, but they are still eager after their object, and are predisposing everything for its ultimate attainment. So many of them have got into the legislature that, aided by the corrupt squadron of paper dealers, who are at their devotion, they make a majority in both houses. The republican party, who wish to preserve the government in its present form, are fewer in number. They are fewer even when joined by the two, three, or half dozen anti-federalists, who, tho they dare not avow it, are still opposed to any general government: but being less so to a republican than a monarchical one, they naturally join those whom they think pursuing the lesser evil.
Of all the mischiefs objected to the system of measures before mentioned, none is so afflicting and fatal to every honest hope as the corruption of the legislature. As it was the earliest of these measures, it became the instrument for producing the rest, & will be the instrument for producing in future a king, lords & commons, or whatever else those who direct it may choose. Withdrawn such a distance from the eye of their constituents, and these so dispersed as to be inaccessible to public information, & particularly to that of the conduct of their own representatives, they will form the most corrupt government on earth, if the means of their corruption be not prevented. The only hope of safety hangs now on the numerous representation which is to come forward the ensuing year. Some of the new members will probably be, either in principle or interest, with the present majority, but it is expected that the great mass will form an accession to the republican party. They will not be able to undo all which the two preceding legislatures, & especially the first, have done. Public faith & right will oppose this. But some parts of the system may be rightfully reformed; a liberation from the rest unremittingly pursued as fast as right will permit, & the door shut in future against similar commitments of the nation. Should the next legislature take this course, it will draw upon them the whole monarchical & paper interest. But the latter I think will not go all lengths with the former, because creditors will never, of their own accord, fly off entirely from their debtors. Therefore this is the alternative least likely to produce convulsion. But should the majority of the new members be still in the same principles with the present, & show that we have nothing to expect but a continuance of the same practices, it is not easy to conjecture what would be the result, nor what means would be resorted to for correction of the evil. True wisdom would direct that they should be temperate & peaceable, but the division of sentiment & interest happens unfortunately to be so geographical that no mortal can say that what is most wise & temperate would prevail against what is most easy & obvious. I can scarcely contemplate a more incalculable evil than the breaking of the union into two or more parts. Yet when we review the mass which opposed the original coalescence, when we consider that it lay chiefly in the Southern quarter, that the legislature have availed themselves of no occasion of allaying it, but on the contrary whenever Northern & Southern prejudices have come into conflict, the latter have been sacrificed & the former soothed; that the owners of the debt are in the Southern & the holders of it in the Northern division; that the Antifederal champions are now strengthened in argument by the fulfilment of their predictions; that this has been brought about by the Monarchical federalists themselves, who, having been for the new government merely as a stepping stone to monarchy, have themselves adopted the very constructions of the Constitution of which, when advocating its acceptance before the tribunal of the people, they declared it insusceptible; that the republican federalists, who espoused the same government for its intrinsic merits, are disarmed of their weapons, that which they denied as prophecy being now become true history: who can be sure that these things may not proselyte the small number which was wanting to place the majority on the other side? And this is the event at which I tremble, & to prevent which I consider your continuance at the head of affairs as of the last importance. The confidence of the whole union is centered in you. Your being at the helm will be more than an answer to every argument which can be used to alarm & lead the people in any quarter into violence or secession. North & South will hang together if they have you to hang on; and, if the first correction of a numerous representation should fail in its effect, your presence will give time for trying others not inconsistent with the union & peace of the states.
I am perfectly aware of the oppression under which your present office lays your mind & of the ardor with which you pant for retirement to domestic life. But there is sometimes an eminence of character on which society have such peculiar claims as to control the predilection of the individual for a particular walk of happiness, & restrain him to that alone arising from the present & future benedictions of mankind. This seems to be your condition & the law imposed on you by providence in forming your character & fashioning the events on which it was to operate; and it is to motives like these, & not to personal anxieties of mine or others who have no right to call on you for sacrifices, that I appeal from your former determination & urge a revisal of it, on the ground of change in the aspect of things. Should an honest majority result from the new & enlarged representation; should those acquiesce whose principles or interest they may control, your wishes for retirement would be gratified with less danger as soon as that shall be manifest, without awaiting the completion of the second period of four years. One or two sessions will determine the crisis; and I cannot but hope that you can resolve to add one or two more to the many years you have already sacrificed to the good of mankind… .
thomas jefferson Memorandum of a Conversation with Washington 10 July 1792
My letter of [May 23] to the President, directed to him at Mt. Vernon, had not found him there, but came to him here. He told me of this & that he would take an occasion of speaking with me on the subject. He did so this day. He began by observing that he had put it off from day to day because the subject was painful, to wit his remaining in office which that letter solicited. He said that the declaration he had made when he quitted his military command of never again acting in public was sincere. That however when he was called on to come forward to set the present government in motion, it appeared to him that circumstances were so changed as to justify a change in his resolution: he was made to believe that in 2 years all would be well in motion & he might retire. At the end of two years he found some things still to be done. At the end of the 3d year he thought it was not worthwhile to disturb the course of things as in one year more his office would expire & he was decided then to retire. Now he was told there would still be danger in it. Certainly, if he thought so, he would conquer his longing for retirement. But he feared it would be said his former professions of retirement had been mere affectation, & that he was like other men, when once in office he could not quit it. He was sensible too of a decay of his hearing; perhaps his other faculties might fall off & he not be sensible of it. That with respect to the existing causes of uneasiness, he thought there were suspicions against a particular party which had been carried a great deal too far, there might be desires, but he did not believe there were designs to change the form of government into a monarchy. That there might be a few who wished it in the higher walks of life, particularly in the great cities, but that the main body of the people in the Eastern states were as steadily for republicanism as in the Southern. That the pieces lately published, & particularly in Freneau’s paper, seemed to have in view the exciting opposition to the government. That this had taken place in Pennsylvania as to the excise law, according to information he had received from General Hand, that they tended to produce a separation of the Union, the most dreadful of all calamities, and that whatever tended to produce anarchy, tended of course to produce a resort to monarchical government. He considered those papers as attacking him directly, for he must be a fool indeed to swallow the little sugar plumbs here & there thrown out to him. That in condemning the administration of the government they condemned him, for if they thought there were measures pursued contrary to his sentiment, they must conceive him too careless to attend to them or too stupid to understand them. That tho indeed he had signed many acts which he did not approve in all their parts, yet he had never put his name to one which he did not think on the whole was eligible. That as to the bank, which had been an act of so much complaint, until there was some infallible criterion of reason, a difference of opinion must be tolerated. He did not believe the discontents extended far from the seat of government. He had seen & spoken with many people in Maryland & Virginia in his late journey. He found the people contented & happy. He wished however to be better informed on this head. If the discontent were more extensive than he supposed, it might be that the desire that he should remain in the government was not general.
My observations to him tended principally to enforce the topics of my letter. I will not therefore repeat them except where they produced observations from him. I said that the two great complaints were that the national debt was unnecessarily increased, & that it had furnished the means of corrupting both branches of the legislature. That he must know & everybody knew there was a considerable squadron in both whose votes were devoted to the paper & stock-jobbing interest, that the names of a weighty number were known & several others suspected on good grounds. That on examining the votes of these men they would be found uniformly for every treasury measure, & that as most of these measures had been carried by small majorities they were carried by these very votes. That therefore it was a cause of just uneasiness when we saw a legislature legislating for their own interests in opposition to those of the people. He said not a word on the corruption of the legislature, but took up the other point, defended the assumption, & argued that it had not increased the debt, for that all of it was honest debt. He justified the excise law, as one of the best laws which could be past, as nobody would pay the tax who did not choose to do it. With respect to the increase of the debt by the assumption, I observed to him that what was meant & objected to was that it increased the debt of the general government and carried it beyond the possibility of payment. That if the balances had been settled & the debtor states directed to pay their deficiencies to the creditor states, they would have done it easily and by resources of taxation in their power and acceptable to the people, by a direct tax in the South & an excise in the North. Still he said it would be paid by the people. Finding him really approving the treasury system I avoided entering into argument with him on those points.
Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, Objections and Answers Respecting the Administration of the Government August 1792
I. Object. The public debt is greater than we can possibly pay before other causes of adding to it will occur; and this has been artificially created by adding together the whole amount of the debtor and creditor sides of the account.
Answer. The public debt was produced by the late war. It is not the fault of the present government that it exists, unless it can be proved that public morality and policy do not require of a government an honest provision for its debts. Whether it is greater than can be paid before new causes of adding to it will occur is a problem incapable of being solved but by experience; and this would be the case if it were not one fourth as much as it is. If the policy of the country be prudent, cautious and neutral towards foreign nations, … there is a rational probability that war may be avoided long enough to wipe off the debt. The Dutch, in a situation not near so favorable for it as that of the U States, have enjoyed intervals of peace longer than with proper exertions would suffice for the purpose. The debt of the U States compared with its present and growing abilities is really a very light one. It is little more than 15,000,000 of pounds sterling, about the annual expenditure of Great Britain.
But whether the public debt shall be extinguished or not within a moderate period depends on the temper of the people. If they are rendered dissatisfied by misrepresentation of the measures of the government, the government will be deprived of an efficient command of the resources of the community towards extinguishing the debt. And thus, those who clamor are likely to be the principal causes of protracting the existence of the debt.
As to having been artificially increased, this is denied; perhaps indeed the true reproach of the system which has been adopted is that it has artificially diminished the debt as will be explained by and by.
The assertion that the debt has been increased by adding together the whole amount of the debtor and creditor sides of the account, not being very easy to be understood, is not easy to be answered… .
The general inducements to a provision for the public debt are—I. To preserve the public faith and integrity by fulfilling as far as was practicable the public engagements. II. To manifest a due respect for property by satisfying the public obligations in the hands of the public creditors and which were as much their property as their houses or their lands, their hats or their coats. III. To revive and establish public credit, the palladium of public safety. IV. To preserve the government itself by showing it worthy of the confidence which was placed in it, to procure to the community the blessings which in innumerable ways attend confidence in the government, and to avoid the evils which in as many ways attend the want of confidence in it.
The particular inducements to an assumption of the state debts were—I. To consolidate the finances of the country and give an assurance of permanent order in them, avoiding the collisions of thirteen different and independent systems of finance under concurrent and coequal authorities and the scramblings for revenue which would have been incident to so many different systems. II. To secure to the Government of the Union, by avoiding those entanglements, an effectual command of the resources of the Union for present and future exigencies. III. To equalize the condition of the citizens of the several states in the important article of taxation, rescuing a part of them from being oppressed with burthens beyond their strength, on account of extraordinary exertions in the war and through the want of certain adventitious resources, which it was the good fortune of others to possess.
A mind naturally attached to order and system and capable of appreciating their immense value, unless misled by particular feelings, is struck at once with the prodigious advantages which in the course of time must attend such a simplification of the financial affairs of the country as results from placing all the parts of the public debt upon one footing—under one direction—regulated by one provision. The want of this sound policy has been a continual source of disorder and embarrassment in the affairs of the United Netherlands.
The true justice of the case of the public debt consists in that equalization of the condition of the citizens of all the states which must arise from a consolidation of the debt and common contributions towards its extinguishment. Little inequalities, as to the past, can bear no comparison with the more lasting inequalities which, without the assumption, would have characterized the future condition of the people of the U States, leaving upon those who had done most or suffered most a great additional weight of burthen.
If the foregoing inducements to a provision for the public debt (including an assumption of the state debts) were sufficiently cogent—then the justification of the excise law lies within a narrow compass. Some further source of revenue, besides the duties on imports, was indispensable, and none equally productive would have been so little exceptionable to the mass of the people.
Other reasons cooperated in the minds of some able men to render an excise at an early period desirable. They thought it well to lay hold of so valuable a resource of revenue before it was generally preoccupied by the state governments. They supposed it not amiss that the authority of the national government should be visible in some branch of internal revenue, lest a total non-exercise of it should beget an impression that it was never to be exercised & next that it ought not to be exercised. It was supposed too that a thing of the kind could not be introduced with a greater prospect of easy success than at a period when the government enjoyed the advantage of first impressions—when state-factions to resist its authority were not yet matured—when so much aid was to be derived from the popularity and firmness of the actual Chief Magistrate.
Facts hitherto do not indicate the measure to have been rash or ill advised. The law is in operation with perfect acquiescence in all the states north of New York, though they contribute most largely. In New York and New Jersey it is in full operation, with some very partial complainings fast wearing away. In the greatest part of Pennsylvania it is in operation and with increasing good humor towards it. The four western counties continue exceptions. In Delaware it has had some struggle, which by the last accounts was surmounted. In Maryland and Virginia, it is in operation and without material conflict. In South Carolina it is now in pretty full operation, though in the interior parts it has had some serious opposition to overcome. In Georgia, no material difficulty has been experienced. North Carolina, Kentucky, & the four western counties of Pennsylvania present the only remaining impediments of any consequence to the full execution of the law. The latest advices from NC & Kentucky were more favorable than the former… .
The debt existed. It was to be provided for. In whatever shape the provision was made the object of speculation and the speculation would have existed. Nothing but abolishing the debt could have obviated it. It is therefore the fault of the Revolution not of the government that paper speculation exists.
An unsound or precarious provision would have increased this species of speculation in its most odious forms. The defects & casualties of the system would have been as much subjects of speculation as the debt itself.
The difference is that under a bad system the public stock would have been too uncertain an article to be a substitute for money & all the money employed in it would have been diverted from useful employment without anything to compensate for it. Under a good system the stock becomes more than a substitute for the money employed in negotiating it… .
Objection 11. Paper Speculation nourishes in our citizens &c.
Answer. This proposition within certain limits is true. Jobbing in the funds has some bad effects among those engaged in it. It fosters a spirit of gambling and diverts a certain number of individuals from other pursuits. But if the proposition be true that stock operates as capital, the effect upon the citizens at large is different. It promotes among them industry by furnishing a larger field of employment. Though this effect of a funded debt has been called in question in England by some theorists, yet most theorists & all practical men allow its existence. And there is no doubt, as already intimated, that if we look into those scenes among ourselves where the largest portions of the debt are accumulated we shall perceive that a new spring has been given to industry in various branches.
But be all this as it may, the observation made under the last head applies here. The debt was the creature of the Revolution. It was to be provided for. Being so, in whatever form, it must have become an object of speculation and jobbing.
Objection 12. The funding of the debt has furnished effectual means of corrupting &c.
Answer. This is one of those assertions which can only be denied and pronounced to be malignant and false. No facts exist to support it, and being a mere matter of fact, no argument can be brought to repel it.
The assertors beg the question. They assume to themselves and to those who think with them infallibility. Take their words for it, they are the only honest men in the community. But compare the tenor of men’s lives and at least as large a proportion of virtuous and independent characters will be found among those whom they malign as among themselves.
A member of a majority of the legislature would say to these defamers—
“In your vocabulary, Gentlemen, creditor and enemy appear to be synonymous terms—the support of public credit and corruption of similar import—an enlarged and liberal construction of the Constitution for the public good and for the maintenance of the due energy of the national authority of the same meaning with usurpation and a conspiracy to overturn the republican government of the country—every man of a different opinion from your own an ambitious despot or a corrupt knave. You bring everything to the standard of your narrow and depraved ideas, and you condemn without mercy or even decency whatever does not accord with it. Every man who is either too long or too short for your political couch must be stretched or lopped to suit it. But your pretensions must be rejected. Your insinuations despised. Your politics originate in immorality, in a disregard of the maxims of good faith and the rights of property, and if they could prevail must end in national disgrace and confusion. Your rules of construction for the authorities vested in the Government of the Union would arrest all its essential movements and bring it back in practice to the same state of imbecility which rendered the old confederation contemptible. Your principles of liberty are principles of licentiousness incompatible with all government. You sacrifice everything that is venerable and substantial in society to the vain reveries of a false and new fangled philosophy. As to the motives by which I have been influenced, I leave my general conduct in private and public life to speak for them. Go and learn among my fellow citizens whether I have not uniformly maintained the character of an honest man. As to the love of liberty and country, you have given no stronger proofs of being actuated by it than I have done. Cease then to arrogate to yourself and to your party all the patriotism and virtue of the country. Renounce if you can the intolerant spirit by which you are governed—and begin to reform yourself instead of reprobating others, by beginning to doubt of your own infallibility.
Such is the answer which would naturally be given by a member of the majority in the legislature to such an objector. And it is the only one that could be given, until some evidence of the supposed corruption should be produced.
As far as I know, there is not a member of the legislature who can properly be called a stock-jobber or a paper dealer. There are several of them who were proprietors of public debt in various ways. Some for money lent & property furnished for the use of the public during the war, others for sums received in payment of debts—and it is supposeable enough that some of them had been purchasers of the public debt with intention to hold it as a valuable & convenient property, considering an honorable provision for it as matter of course.
It is a strange perversion of ideas, and as novel as it is extraordinary, that men should be deemed corrupt & criminal for becoming proprietors in the funds of their country. Yet I believe the number of members of Congress is very small who have ever been considerably proprietors in the funds.
And as to improper speculations on measures depending before Congress, I believe never was any body of men freer from them.
There are indeed several members of Congress who have become proprietors in the Bank of the United States, and a few of them to a pretty large amount, say 50 or 60 shares; but all operations of this kind were necessarily subsequent to the determination upon the measure. The subscriptions were of course subsequent & purchases still more so. Can there be anything really blameable in this? Can it be culpable to invest property in an institution which has been established for the most important national purposes? Can that property be supposed to corrupt the holder? It would indeed tend to render him friendly to the preservation of the Bank; but in this there would be no collision between duty & interest, and it could give him no improper bias in other questions.
To uphold public credit and to be friendly to the Bank must be presupposed to be corrupt things before the being a proprietor in the funds or of bank stock can be supposed to have a corrupting influence. The being a proprietor in either case is a very different thing from being, in a proper sense of the term, a stock jobber. On this point of the corruption of the legislature one more observation of great weight remains. Those who oppose a funded debt and mean any provision for it contemplate an annual one. Now, it is impossible to conceive a more fruitful source of legislative corruption than this. All the members of it who should incline to speculate would have an annual opportunity of speculating upon their influence in the legislature to promote or retard or put off a provision. Every session the question whether the annual provision should be continued would be an occasion of pernicious caballing and corrupt bargaining. In this very view when the subject was in deliberation, it was impossible not to wish it declared upon once for all & out of the way.
Objection the 13. The Corrupt Squadron &c.
Here again the objectors beg the question. They take it for granted that their constructions of the Constitution are right and that the opposite ones are wrong, and with great good nature and candor ascribe the effect of a difference of opinion to a disposition to get rid of the limitations on the government.
Those who have advocated the constructions which have obtained have met their opponents on the ground of fair argument and they think have refuted them. How shall it be determined which side is right?
There are some things which the general government has clearly a right to do—there are others which it has clearly no right to meddle with, and there is a good deal of middle ground, about which honest & well disposed men may differ. The most that can be said is that some of this middle ground may have been occupied by the national legislature; and this surely is no evidence of a disposition to get rid of the limitations in the Constitution, nor can it be viewed in that light by men of candor.
The truth is one description of men is disposed to do the essential business of the nation by a liberal construction of the powers of the government; another from disaffection would fritter away those powers—a third from an overweening jealousy would do the same thing—a fourth from party & personal opposition are torturing the Constitution into objections to everything they do not like.
The Bank is one of the measures which is deemed by some the greatest stretch of power; and yet its constitutionality has been established in the most satisfactory manner.
And the most incorrigible theorist among its opponents would in one month’s experience as head of the Department of the Treasury be compelled to acknowledge that it is an absolutely indispensable engine in the management of the finances and would quickly become a convert to its perfect constitutionality.
Objection XIV. The ultimate object of all.
To this there is no other answer than a flat denial—except this, that the project from its absurdity refutes itself.
The idea of introducing a monarchy or aristocracy into this country by employing the influence and force of a government continually changing hands towards it is one of those visionary things that none but madmen could meditate and that no wise men will believe.
If it could be done at all, which is utterly incredible, it would require a long series of time, certainly beyond the life of any individual to effect it. Who then would enter into such plot? For what purpose of interest or ambition?
To hope that the people may be cajoled into giving their sanctions to such institutions is still more chimerical. A people so enlightened and so diversified as the people of this country can surely never be brought to it but from convulsions and disorders, in consequence of the acts of popular demagogues.
The truth unquestionably is that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the country is by flattering the prejudices of the people and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion and bring on civil commotion. Tired at length of anarchy, or want of government, they may take shelter in the arms of monarchy for repose and security.
Those, then, who resist a confirmation of public order are the true artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man [Aaron Burr?] is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the general government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.”
It has aptly been observed that Cato was the Tory—Caesar the Whig of his day. The former frequently resisted—the latter always flattered—the follies of the people. Yet the former perished with the Republic; the latter destroyed it.
No popular government was ever without its Catalines & its Caesars. These are its true enemies.
As far as I am informed, the anxiety of those who are calumniated is to keep the government in the state in which it is, which they fear will be no easy task, from a natural tendency in the state of things to exalt the local on the ruins of the national government. Some of them appear to wish, in a constitutional way, a change in the judiciary department of the government, from an apprehension that an orderly and effectual administration of justice cannot be obtained without a more intimate connection between the state and national tribunals. But even this is not an object of any set of men as a party. There is a difference of opinion about it on various grounds among those who have generally acted together. As to any other change of consequence, I believe nobody dreams of it.
Tis curious to observe the anticipations of the different parties. One side appears to believe that there is a serious plot to overturn the state governments and substitute monarchy to the present republican system. The other side firmly believes that there is a serious plot to overturn the general government & elevate the separate power of the states upon its ruins. Both sides may be equally wrong, & their mutual jealousies may be materially causes of the appearances which mutually disturb them and sharpen them against each other… .
No man, that I know of, contemplated the introducing into this country of a monarchy. A very small number (not more than three or four) manifested theoretical opinions favorable in the abstract to a constitution like that of Great Britain, but everyone agreed that such a constitution except as to the general distribution of departments and powers was out of the question in reference to this country. The member who was most explicit on this point (a member from New York) declared in strong terms that the republican theory ought to be adhered to in this country as long as there was any chance of its success—that the idea of a perfect equality of political rights among the citizens, exclusive of all permanent or hereditary distinctions, was of a nature to engage the good wishes of every good man, whatever might be his theoretic doubts—that it merited his best efforts to give success to it in practice—that hitherto from an incompetent structure of the government it had not had a fair trial, and that the endeavor ought then to be to secure to it a better chance of success by a government more capable of energy and order.
Alexander Hamilton to George Washington 9 September 1792
I have the pleasure of your private letter of the 26th of August.
The feelings and views which are manifested in that letter are such as I expected would exist. And I most sincerely regret the causes of the uneasy sensations you experience. It is my most anxious wish, as far as may depend upon me, to smooth the path of your administration, and to render it prosperous and happy. And if any prospect shall open of healing or terminating the differences which exist, I shall most cheerfully embrace it, though I consider myself as the deeply injured party. The recommendation of such a spirit is worthy of the moderation and wisdom which dictated it; and if your endeavors should prove unsuccessful, I do not hesitate to say that in my opinion the period is not remote when the public good will require substitutes for the differing members of your administration. The continuance of a division there must destroy the energy of government, which will be little enough with the strictest Union. On my part there will be a most cheerful acquiescence in such a result.
I trust, Sir, that the greatest frankness has always marked and will always mark every step of my conduct towards you. In this disposition, I cannot conceal from you that I have had some instrumentality of late in the retaliations which have fallen upon certain public characters and that I find myself placed in a situation not to be able to recede for the present.
I considered myself as compelled to this conduct by reasons public as well as personal of the most cogent nature. I know that I have been an object of uniform opposition from Mr. Jefferson, from the first moment of his coming to the City of New York to enter upon his present office. I know, from the most authentic sources, that I have been the frequent subject of the most unkind whispers and insinuations from the same quarter. I have long seen a formed party in the legislature, under his auspices, bent upon my subversion. I cannot doubt, from the evidence I possess, that the National Gazette was instituted by him for political purposes and that one leading object of it has been to render me and all the measures connected with my department as odious as possible.
Nevertheless I can truly say that, except explanations to confidential friends, I never directly or indirectly retaliated or countenanced retaliation till very lately. I can even assure you that I was instrumental in preventing a very severe and systematic attack upon Mr. Jefferson by an association of two or three individuals, in consequence of the persecution which he brought upon the Vice President by his indiscreet and light letter to the printer, transmitting Paine’s pamphlet.
As long as I saw no danger to the government from the machinations which were going on, I resolved to be a silent sufferer of the injuries which were done me. I determined to avoid giving occasion to anything which could manifest to the world dissentions among the principal characters of the government, a thing which can never happen without weakening its hands and in some degree throwing a stigma upon it.
But when I no longer doubted that there was a formed party deliberately bent upon the subversion of measures which in its consequences would subvert the government—when I saw that the undoing of the funding system in particular (which, whatever may be the original merits of that system, would prostrate the credit and the honor of the nation and bring the government into contempt with that description of men who are in every society the only firm supporters of government) was an avowed object of the party; and that all possible pains were taking to produce that effect by rendering it odious to the body of the people—I considered it as a duty to endeavour to resist the torrent, and as an essential mean to this end, to draw aside the veil from the principal actors. To this strong impulse, to this decided conviction, I have yielded. And I think events will prove that I have judged rightly.
Nevertheless I pledge my honor to you, Sir, that if you shall hereafter form a plan to reunite the members of your administration upon some steady principle of cooperation, I will faithfully concur in executing it during my continuance in office. And I will not directly or indirectly say or do a thing that shall endanger a feud… .
Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, Monticello 9 September 1792
… When I embarked in the government, it was with a determination to intermeddle not at all with the legislature, & as little as possible with my co-departments. The first and only instance of variance from the former part of my resolution, I was duped into by the Secretary of the Treasury and made a tool for forwarding his schemes, not then sufficiently understood by me; and of all the errors of my political life, this has occasioned me the deepest regret. It has ever been my purpose to explain this to you when, from being actors on the scene, we shall have become uninterested spectators only. The second part of my resolution has been religiously observed with the War Department &, as to that of the Treasury, has never been farther swerved from than by the mere enunciation of my sentiments in conversation, and chiefly among those who, expressing the same sentiments, drew mine from me. If it has been supposed that I have ever intrigued among the members of the legislatures to defeat the plans of the Secretary of the Treasury, it is contrary to all truth. As I never had the desire to influence the members, so neither had I any other means than my friendships, which I valued too highly to risk by usurpations on their freedom of judgment & the conscientious pursuit of their own sense of duty. That I have utterly, in my private conversations, disapproved of the system of the Secretary of the Treasury, I acknowledge & avow: and this was not merely a speculative difference. His system flowed from principles adverse to liberty, & was calculated to undermine and demolish the republic, by creating an influence of his department over the members of the legislature. I saw this influence actually produced, & its first fruits to be the establishment of the great outlines of his project by the votes of the very persons who, having swallowed his bait, were laying themselves out to profit by his plans: & that had these persons withdrawn, as those interested in a question ever should, the vote of the disinterested majority was clearly the reverse of what they made it. These were no longer the votes then of the representatives of the people, but of deserters from the rights & interests of the people: & it was impossible to consider their decisions, which had nothing in view but to enrich themselves, as the measures of the fair majority, which ought always to be respected.—If what was actually doing begat uneasiness in those who wished for virtuous government, what was further proposed was not less threatening to the friends of the Constitution. For, in a Report on the subject of manufactures (still to be acted on) it was expressly assumed that the general government has a right to exercise all powers which may be for the general welfare, that is to say all the legitimate powers of government: since no government has a legitimate right to do what is not for the welfare of the governed. There was indeed a sham-limitation of the universality of this power to cases where money is to be employed. But about what is it that money cannot be employed? Thus the object of these plans taken together is to draw all the powers of government into the hands of the general legislature, to establish means for corrupting a sufficient corps in that legislature to divide the honest votes & preponderate, by their own, the scale which suited, & to have that corps under the command of the Secretary of the Treasury for the purpose of subverting step by step the principles of the Constitution, which he has so often declared to be a thing of nothing which must be changed. Such views might have justified something more than mere expressions of dissent, beyond which, nevertheless, I never went.—Has abstinence from the department committed to me been equally observed by him? To say nothing of other interferences equally known, in the case of the two nations with which we have the most intimate connections, France & England, my system was to give some satisfactory distinctions to the former, of little cost to us, in return for the solid advantages yielded us by them; & to have met the English with some restrictions which might induce them to abate their severities against our commerce. I have always supposed this coincided with your sentiments. Yet the Secretary of the Treasury, by his cabals with members of the legislature, & by high-toned declamation on other occasions, has forced down his own system, which was exactly the reverse. He undertook, of his own authority, the conferences with the ministers of those two nations, & was, on every consultation, provided with some report of a conversation with the one or the other of them, adapted to his views. These views, thus made to prevail, their execution fell of course to me; & I can safely appeal to you, who have seen all my letters & proceedings, whether I have not carried them into execution as sincerely as if they had been my own, tho’ I ever considered them as inconsistent with the honor & interest of our country. That they have been inconsistent with our interest is but too fatally proved by the stab to our navigation given by the French.—So that if the question be By whose fault is it that Colo. Hamilton & myself have not drawn together? the answer will depend on that to two other questions; whose principles of administration best justify, by their purity, conscientious adherence? and which of us has, notwithstanding, stepped farthest into the control of the department of the other?
To this justification of opinions, expressed in the way of conversation, against the views of Colo. Hamilton, I beg leave to add some notice of his late charges against me in Fenno’s gazette; for neither the style, matter, nor venom of the pieces alluded to can leave a doubt of their author. Spelling my name & character at full length to the public, while he conceals his own under the signature of “An American,” he charges me 1. With having written letters from Europe to my friends to oppose the present constitution while depending. 2. With a desire of not paying the public debt. 3. With setting up a paper to decry & slander the government. 1. The first charge is most false. No man in the U.S. I suppose, approved of every title in the Constitution; no one, I believe approved more of it than I did: and more of it was certainly disapproved by my accuser than by me, and of its parts most vitally republican. Of this the few letters I wrote on the subject (not half a dozen I believe) will be a proof: & for my own satisfaction & justification, I must tax you with the reading of them when I return to where they are. You will there see that my objection to the Constitution was that it wanted a bill of rights securing freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom from standing armies, trial by jury, & a constant Habeas Corpus act. Colo. Hamilton’s was that it wanted a king and house of lords. The sense of America has approved my objection & added the bill of rights, not the king and lords. I also thought a longer term of service, insusceptible of renewal, would have made a President more independent. My country has thought otherwise, & I have acquiesced implicitly. He wishes the general government should have power to make laws binding the states in all cases whatsoever. Our country has thought otherwise: has he acquiesced? Notwithstanding my wish for a bill of rights, my letters strongly urged the adoption of the constitution, by nine states at least, to secure the good it contained. I at first thought that the best method of securing the bill of rights would be for four states to hold off till such a bill should be agreed to. But the moment I saw Mr. Hancock’s proposition to pass the constitution as it stood and give perpetual instructions to the representatives of every state to insist on a bill of rights, I acknowledged the superiority of his plan, & advocated universal adoption. 2. The second charge is equally untrue. My whole correspondence while in France, & every word, letter, & act on the subject since my return, prove that no man is more ardently intent to see the public debt soon & sacredly paid off than I am. This exactly marks the difference between Colo. Hamilton’s views & mine, that I would wish the debt paid tomorrow; he wishes it never to be paid, but always to be a thing wherewith to corrupt & manage the legislature. 3. I have never enquired what number of sons, relations, & friends of senators, representatives, printers or other useful partisans Colo. Hamilton has provided for among the hundred clerks of his department, the thousand excisemen, custom-house officers, loan officers, &c. &c. &c. appointed by him, or at his nod, and spread over the Union; nor could ever have imagined that the man who has the shuffling of millions backwards & forwards from paper into money & money into paper, from Europe to America, & America to Europe, the dealing out of Treasury-secrets among his friends in what time & measure he pleases, and who never slips an occasion for making friends with his means, that such a one I say would have brought forward a charge against me for having appointed the poet Freneau translating clerk to my office, with a salary of 250 dollars a year. That fact stands thus. While the government was at New York I was applied to on behalf of Freneau to know if there was any place within my department to which he could be appointed. I answered there were but four clerkships, all of which I found full, and continued without any change. When we removed to Philadelphia, Mr. Pintard, the translating clerk, did not choose to remove with us. His office then became vacant. I was again applied to there for Freneau, & had no hesitation to promise the clerkship for him. I cannot recollect whether it was at the same time, or afterwards, that I was told he had a thought of setting up a newspaper there. But whether then, or afterwards, I considered it as a circumstance of some value, as it might enable me to do, what I had long wished to have done, that is, to have the material parts of the Leyden Gazette brought under your eye & that of the public, in order to possess yourself & them of a juster view of the affairs of Europe than could be obtained from any other public source. This I had ineffectually attempted through the press of Mr. Fenno while in New York, selecting & translating passages myself at first then having it done by Mr. Pintard the translating clerk, but they found their way too slowly into Mr. Fenno’s papers. Mr. Bache essayed it for me in Philadelphia, but his being a daily paper, did not circulate sufficiently in the other states. He even tried, at my request, the plan of a weekly paper of recapitulation from his daily paper, in hopes that that might go into the other states, but in this too we failed. Freneau, as translating clerk & the printer of a periodical paper likely to circulate thro’ the states (uniting in one person the parts of Pintard & Fenno) revived my hopes that the thing could at length be effected. On the establishment of his paper, therefore, I furnished him with the Leyden Gazettes, with an expression of my wish that he could always translate & publish the material intelligence they contained; & have continued to furnish them from time to time, as regularly as I received them. But as to any other direction or indication of my wish how his press should be conducted, what sort of intelligence he should give, what essays encourage, I can protest in the presence of heaven, that I never did by myself or any other, directly or indirectly, say a syllable, nor attempt any kind of influence. I can further protest, in the same awful presence, that I never did by myself or any other, directly or indirectly, write, dictate or procure any one sentence or sentiment to be inserted in his, or any other, gazette to which my name was not affixed or that of my office.—I surely need not except here a thing so foreign to the present subject as a little paragraph about our Algerine captives, which I put once into Fenno’s paper.—Freneau’s proposition to publish a paper, having been about the time that the writings of Publicola & the Discourses on Davila had a good deal excited the public attention, I took for granted from Freneau’s character, which had been marked as that of a good whig, that he would give free place to pieces written against the aristocratical & monarchical principles these papers had inculcated. This having been in my mind, it is likely enough I may have expressed it in conversation with others; tho’ I do not recollect that I did. To Freneau I think I could not, because I had still seen him but once, & that was at a public table, at breakfast, at Mrs. Elsworth’s, as I passed thro’ New York the last year. And I can safely declare that my expectations looked only to the chastisement of the aristocratical & monarchical writers, & not to any criticisms on the proceedings of government. Colo. Hamilton can see no motive for any appointment but that of making a convenient partizan. But you Sir, who have received from me recommendations of a Rittenhouse, Barlow, Paine, will believe that talents & science are sufficient motives with me in appointments to which they are fitted: & that Freneau, as a man of genius, might find a preference in my eye to be a translating clerk, & make good title to the little aids I could give him as the editor of a gazette, by procuring subscriptions to his paper, as I did some, before it appeared, & as I have with pleasure done for the labors of other men of genius. I hold it to be one of the distinguishing excellencies of elective over hereditary successions that the talents which nature has provided in sufficient proportion should be selected by the society for the government of their affairs, rather than that this should be transmitted through the loins of knaves & fools passing from the debauches of the table to those of the bed. … He & Fenno are rivals for the public favor. The one courts them by flattery, the other by censure, & I believe it will be admitted that the one has been as servile as the other severe. But is not the dignity, & even decency of government committed, when one of its principal ministers enlists himself as an anonymous writer or paragraphist for either the one or the other of them?—No government ought to be without censors; & where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack & defense. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth either in religion, law, or politics. I think it as honorable to the government neither to know nor notice its sycophants or censors as it would be undignified & criminal to pamper the former & persecute the latter.—So much for the past. A word now of the future.
When I came into this office, it was with a resolution to retire from it as soon as I could with decency. It pretty early appeared to me that the proper moment would be the first of those epochs at which the constitution seems to have contemplated a periodical change or renewal of the public servants. In this I was confirmed by your resolution respecting the same period; from which however I am happy in hoping you have departed. I look to that period with the longing of a wave-worn mariner, who has at length the land in view, & shall count the days & hours which still lie between me & it. In the meanwhile my main object will be to wind up the business of my office, avoiding as much as possible all new enterprise. With the affairs of the legislature, as I never did intermeddle, so I certainly shall not now begin. I am more desirous to predispose everything for the repose to which I am withdrawing than expose it to be disturbed by newspaper contests. If these however cannot be avoided altogether, yet a regard for your quiet will be a sufficient motive for my deferring it till I become merely a private citizen, when the propriety or impropriety of what I may say or do may fall on myself alone. I may then too avoid the charge of misapplying that time which now belonging to those who employ me, should be wholly devoted to their service. If my own justification or the interests of the republic shall require it, I reserve to myself the right of then appealing to my country, subscribing my name to whatever I write, & using with freedom & truth the facts & names necessary to place the cause in its just form before that tribunal. To a thorough disregard of the honors & emoluments of office I join as great a value for the esteem of my countrymen, & conscious of having merited it by an integrity which cannot be reproached, & by an enthusiastic devotion to their rights & liberty, I will not suffer my retirement to be clouded by the slanders of a man whose history, from the moment at which history can stoop to notice him, is a tissue of machinations against the liberty of the country which has not only received and given him bread, but heaped its honors on his head.—Still however I repeat the hope that it will not be necessary to make such an appeal. Though little known to the people of America, I believe that, as far as I am known, it is not as an enemy to the republic, nor an intriguer against it, nor a waster of its revenue, nor prostitutor of it to the purposes of corruption, as the American represents me; and I confide that yourself are satisfied that, as to dissensions in the newspapers, not a syllable of them has ever proceeded from me; & that no cabals or intrigues of mine have produced those in the legislature, & I hope I may promise, both to you & myself, that none will receive aliment from me during the short space I have to remain in office, which will find ample employment in closing the present business of the department… .
thomas jefferson Memorandum of a Conversation with the President 1 October 1792
… [Washington] expressed his concern at the difference which he found to subsist between the Sec. of the Treasury & myself, of which he said he had not been aware. He knew indeed that there was a marked difference in our political sentiments, but he had never suspected it had gone so far in producing a personal difference, and he wished he could be the mediator to put an end to it. That he thought it important to preserve the check of my opinions in the administration in order to keep things in their proper channel & prevent them from going too far. That as to the idea of transforming this government into a monarchy he did not believe there were ten men in the U.S. whose opinions were worth attention who entertained such a thought. I told him there were many more than he imagined. I recalled to his memory a dispute at his own table a little before we left Philadelphia, between General Schuyler on one side & Pinckney & myself on the other, wherein the former maintained the position that hereditary descent was as likely to produce good magistrates as election. I told him that tho’ the people were sound, there were a numerous sect who had monarchy in contemplation. That the Secretary of the Treasury was one of these. That I had heard him say that this constitution was a shilly shally thing of mere milk & water, which could not last, & was only good as a step to something better. That when we reflected that he had endeavored in the convention to make an English constitution of it, and when failing in that we saw all his measures tending to bring it to the same thing, it was natural for us to be jealous: and particularly when we saw that these measures had established corruption in the legislature, where there was a squadron devoted to the nod of the treasury, doing whatever he had directed & ready to do what he should direct. That if the equilibrium of the three great bodies legislative, executive, & judiciary could be preserved, if the legislative could be kept independent, I should never fear the result of such a government but that I could not but be uneasy when I saw that the executive had swallowed up the legislative branch. He said that as to that interested spirit in the legislature, it was what could not be avoided in any government, unless we were to exclude particular descriptions of men, such as the holders of the funds from all office. I told him there was great difference between the little accidental schemes of self interest which would take place in every body of men & influence their votes, and a regular system for forming a corps of interested persons who should be steadily at the orders of the Treasury. He touched on the merits of the funding system, observed that there was a difference of opinion about it, some thinking it very bad, others very good. That experience was the only criterion of right which he knew & this alone would decide which opinion was right. That for himself he had seen our affairs desperate & our credit lost, and that this was in a sudden & extraordinary degree raised to the highest pitch. I told him all that was ever necessary to establish our credit was an efficient government & an honest one declaring it would sacredly pay our debts, laying taxes for this purpose & applying them to it. I avoided going further into the subject. He finished by another exhortation to me not to decide too positively on retirement, & here we were called to breakfast.
thomas jefferson Memorandum of a Conversationwith the President 7 February 1793
… [Washington expressed] his earnest wish that Hamilton & myself could coalesce in the measures of the government, and urged here the general reasons for it which he had done to me on two former conversations. He said he had proposed the same thing to Hamilton, who expressed his readiness, and he thought our coalition would secure the general acquiescence of the public. I told him my concurrence was of much less importance than he seemed to imagine; that I kept myself aloof from all cabal & correspondence on the subject of the government & saw & spoke with as few as I could. That as to a coalition with Mr. Hamilton, if by that was meant that either was to sacrifice his general system to the other, it was impossible. We had both no doubt formed our conclusions after the most mature consideration, and principles conscientiously adopted could not be given up on either side. My wish was to see both houses of Congress cleansed of all persons interested in the bank or public stocks; & that a pure legislature being given us, I should always be ready to acquiesce under their determinations even if contrary to my own opinions, for that I subscribe to the principle that the will of the majority honestly expressed should give law. I confirmed him in the fact of the great discontents to the South, that they were grounded on seeing that their judgments & interests were sacrificed to those of the Eastern states on every occasion & their belief that it was the effect of a corrupt squadron of voters in Congress at the command of the Treasury, & they see that if the votes of those members who had an interest distinct from & contrary to the general interest of their constituents had been withdrawn, as in decency & honesty they should have been, the laws would have been the reverse of what they are in all the great questions. I instanced the new assumption carried in the House of Representatives by the Speaker’s votes. On this subject he made no reply… .
james madison Further Essays for the National Gazette
“Spirit of Governments” 18 February 1792
No government is perhaps reducible to a sole principle of operation. Where the theory approaches nearest to this character, different and often heterogeneous principles mingle their influence in the administration. It is useful nevertheless to analyze the several kinds of government, and to characterize them by the spirit which predominates in each.
Montesquieu has resolved the great operative principles of government into fear, honor, and virtue, applying the first to pure despotisms, the second to regular monarchies, and the third to republics. The portion of truth blended with the ingenuity of this system sufficiently justifies the admiration bestowed on its author. Its accuracy however can never be defended against the criticisms which it has encountered. Montesquieu was in politics not a Newton or a Locke, who established immortal systems, the one in matter, the other in mind. He was in his particular science what Bacon was in universal science: He lifted the veil from the venerable errors which enslaved opinion and pointed the way to those luminous truths of which he had but a glimpse himself.
May not governments be properly divided, according to their predominant spirit and principles, into three species of which the following are examples?
First. A government operating by a permanent military force, which at once maintains the government and is maintained by it; which is at once the cause of burdens on the people and of submission in the people to their burdens. Such have been the governments under which human nature has groaned through every age. Such are the governments which still oppress it in almost every country of Europe, the quarter of the globe which calls itself the pattern of civilization and the pride of humanity.
Secondly. A government operating by corrupt influence; substituting the motive of private interest in place of public duty; converting its pecuniary dispensations into bounties to favorites or bribes to opponents; accommodating its measures to the avidity of a part of the nation instead of the benefit of the whole: in a word, enlisting an army of interested partizans, whose tongues, whose pens, whose intrigues, and whose active combinations, by supplying the terror of the sword, may support a real domination of the few under an apparent liberty of the many. Such a government, wherever to be found, is an imposter. It is happy for the new world that it is not on the west side of the Atlantic. It will be both happy and honorable for the United States if they never descend to mimic the costly pageantry of its form, nor betray themselves into the venal spirit of its administration.
Thirdly. A government deriving its energy from the will of the society, and operating by the reason of its measures on the understanding and interest of the society. Such is the government for which philosophy has been searching, and humanity been sighing, from the most remote ages. Such are the republican governments which it is the glory of America to have invented, and her unrivalled happiness to possess. May her glory be completed by every improvement on the theory which experience may teach; and her happiness be perpetuated by a system of administration corresponding with the purity of the theory.
A Candid State of Parties” 22 September 1792
As it is the business of the contemplative statesman to trace the history of parties in a free country, so it is the duty of the citizen at all times to understand the actual state of them. Whenever this duty is omitted, an opportunity is given to designing men, by the use of artificial or nominal distinctions, to oppose and balance against each other those who never differed as to the end to be pursued, and may no longer differ as to the means of attaining it. The most interesting state of parties in the United States may be referred to three periods. Those who espoused the cause of independence and those who adhered to the British claims formed the parties of the first period, if, indeed, the disaffected class were considerable enough to deserve the name of a party. This state of things was superseded by the treaty of peace in 1783. From 1783 to 1787 there were parties in abundance, but being rather local than general, they are not within the present review.
The Federal Constitution, proposed in the latter year, gave birth to a second and most interesting division of the people. Everyone remembers it, because everyone was involved in it.
Among those who embraced the Constitution, the great body were unquestionably friends to republican liberty, tho’ there were, no doubt, some who were openly or secretly attached to monarchy and aristocracy, and hoped to make the Constitution a cradle for these hereditary establishments.
Among those who opposed the Constitution, the great body were certainly well affected to the union and to good government, tho’ there might be a few who had a leaning unfavorable to both. This state of parties was terminated by the regular and effectual establishment of the federal government in 1788; out of the administration of which, however, has arisen a third division, which being natural to most political societies, is likely to be of some duration in ours.
One of the divisions consists of those who, from particular interest, from natural temper, or from the habits of life, are more partial to the opulent than to the other classes of society; and having debauched themselves into a persuasion that mankind are incapable of governing themselves, it follows with them, of course, that government can be carried on only by the pageantry of rank, the influence of money and emoluments, and the terror of military force. Men of those sentiments must naturally wish to point the measures of government less to the interest of the many than of a few, and less to the reason of the many than to their weaknesses; hoping perhaps in proportion to the ardor of their zeal, that by giving such a turn to the administration, the government itself may by degrees be narrowed into fewer hands and approximated to a hereditary form.
The other division consists of those who, believing in the doctrine that mankind are capable of governing themselves and hating hereditary power as an insult to the reason and an outrage to the rights of man, are naturally offended at every public measure that does not appeal to the understanding and to the general interests of the community, or that is not strictly conformable to the principles and conducive to the preservation of republican government.
This being the real state of parties among us, an experienced and dispassionate observer will be at no loss to decide on the probable conduct of each.
The antirepublican party, as it may be called, being the weaker in point of numbers, will be induced by the most obvious motives to strengthen themselves with the men of influence, particularly of moneyed, which is the most active and insinuating influence. It will be equally their true policy to weaken their opponents by reviving exploded parties and taking advantage of all prejudices, local, political, and occupational, that may prevent or disturb a general coalition of sentiments.
The Republican party, as it may be termed, conscious that the mass of people in every part of the union, in every state, and of every occupation must at bottom be with them, both in interest and sentiment, will naturally find their account in burying all antecedent questions, in banishing every other distinction than that between enemies and friends to republican government, and in promoting a general harmony among the latter, wherever residing or however employed.
Whether the republican or the rival party will ultimately establish its ascendance is a problem which may be contemplated now; but which time alone can solve. On one hand experience shows that in politics as in war, stratagem is often an overmatch for numbers: and among more happy characteristics of our political situation, it is now well understood that there are peculiarities, some temporary, others more durable, which may favor that side in the contest. On the republican side, again, the superiority of numbers is so great, their sentiments are so decided, and the practice of making a common cause, where there is a common sentiment and common interest, in spight of circumstantial and artificial distinctions, is so well understood, that no temperate observer of human affairs will be surprised if the issue in the present instance should be reversed, and the government be administered in the spirit and form approved by the great body of the people.
The French Revolution and the People