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Chap. in. tive, the most harmonious co-operation in the 1789. public service might be expected.
"The representatives of the people of the United States" says this address, "present their congratulations on the event by which your fellow citizens have attested the pre-eminence of your merit. You have long held the first place in their esteem. You have often received tokens of their affection. You now possess the only proof that remained of their gratitude for your services, of their reverence for your wisdom, and of their confidence in your virtues. You enjoy the highest, because the truest honour, of being the first magistrate, by the unanimous choice of the freest people on the face of the earth.
"We well know the anxieties with which you must have obeyed the summons from the repose reserved for your declining years, into public scenes of which you had taken your leave forever. But obedience was due to the occasion. It is already applauded by the universal joy which welcomes you to your station. And we cannot doubt that it will be rewarded with all the satisfaction with which an ardent love for your fellow citizens must review successful efforts to promote their happiness.
"This anticipation is not justified merely by the past experience of your signal services. It is particularly suggested by the pious impressions under which you commence your administration; and the enlightened maxims by which you mean to conduct it. We feel with you the strongest obligations to adore the invisible hand which has led the American people through so many dlffi- Chap. m. culties; to cherish a conscious responsibility for 1789. the destiny of republican liberty ; and to seek the only sure means of preserving and recommending the precious deposit in a system of legislation founded on the principles of an honest policy, and directed by the spirit of a diffusive patriotism.
"In forming the pecuniary provisions for the executive department, we shall not lose sight of a wish resulting from motives which give it a peculiar claim to our regard. Your resolution, in a moment critical to the liberties of your country, to renounce all personal emolument, was among the many presages of your patriotic services, which have been amply fulfilled; and your scrupulous adherance now to the law then imposed on yourself, cannot fail to demonstrate the purity, whilst it increases the lustre of a character which has so many titles to admiration.
"Such are the sentiments with which we have thought fit to address you. They flow from our own hearts, and we verily believe that among the millions we represent, there is not a virtuous citizen whose heart will disown them.
"All that remains is, that we join in your ferrent supplications for the blessing of Heaven on our country; and that we add our own for the choicest of these blessings on the most beloved of her citizens."
A perfect knowledge of the antecedent state of things being essential to a due administration of the executive department, its attainment constituted one of the first duties attached to the office Chap. in. of president. As the institutions of the old gov
1789. ernment continued until congress could make the necessary arrangements, the temporary heads of departments were required to prepare and lay before the first magistrate, such statements and documents as would give this information.
situation of That the treasury was empty, and that the
the United . * r"
£*» ^thi8 pubhc creditors had claims upon the honour, the Jk'id'mcs' faith, and the justice of the nation, a provision ttonif" for which had already been too long delayed, were facts of universal notoriety which the particular details drawn from official sources could not render more certain. It was not to be doubted that a circumstance which had contributed so essentially to the late revolution would command the serious attention of the legislature, who alone could provide effectually for the subject.
But in the full view which it was useful to take of the interior, many objects were to be contemplated, the documents respecting which were not to be found in official records. The progress which had been made in assuaging the bitter animosities engendered in the sharp contest respecting the adoption of the constitution, and the means which might be used for conciliating the affections of all good men to the new government, without enfeebling its essential principles, were subjects of the most interesting inquiry.
The agitation had been too great to be suddenly calmed; and that the active opponents of the system should immediately become its friends, or even indifferent to its fate, would have been a victory of reason over passion, or a surrender of individual judgment to the decision of a majority, Chap. in. examples of which are rarely given in the conduct 1789. of human affairs.
In some of the states, a disposition to acquiesce in the decision which had been made after a full and elaborate discussion of the subject, and to await the issue of a fair experiment of the constitution as administered by those who should be elected for that purpose, was avowed by the minority. In others, the chagrin of defeat seemed to increase the original hostility to the instrument; and serious fears were entertained by its friends, that a second general convention might pluck from it the most essential of its powers, or cramp it in the exercise of them, before their value, and the safety with which they might be confided where they were placed, could be ascertained by experience.
From the same cause exerting itself in a different direction, the advocates of the new system had been still more alarmed. As might well have been expected, in all those states where the opposition was sufficiently formidable to inspire a hope of success, the effort was made to fill the legislature with the declared enemies of the government, and thus to commit it, in its infancy, to the custody of its foes. Their fears were quieted for the present. In both branches of the legislature, the federalists, an appellation at that time distinguishing those who had advocated the constitution, formed the majority; and it soon appeared that a new convention was too bold an experiment to be applied for by the requisite number of Vol. v. A a
Chap. in. states. The condition of individuals too, was 1789. visibly becoming more generally eligible. Notwithstanding the causes which had diminished the profits of private industry, it was gradually improving their affairs; and the new course of thinking which had been inspired by the adoption of a constitution that was understood to prohibit all laws impairing the obligation of contracts, had in a great measure restored that confidence which is essential to the internal prosperity of nations. From these, or from other causes, the crisis of the pressure on individuals seemed to be passing away, and brighter prospects to be opening on them.
But, two states still remained out of the pale of the union; and among those who were included within it, there existed a mass of ill humour, which increased the necessity of circumspection in those who administered the government.
To the western parts of the continent, the attention of the executive was attracted by discontents which were displayed with some violence, and which originated in circumstances, and in interests, peculiar to that country.
In possession of the mouth of the Mississippi, Spain had refused to permit the citizens of the United States to follow its waters into the ocean; and had occasionally tolerated or interdicted their commerce to New Orleans, as had been suggested by the supposed interest or caprice of the Spanish government, or of its representatives in America. Down that river, the eyes of the inhabitants adjacent to the waters which emptied into it were