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during the time for which he had been elected, Chap. Hi. might be considered, in some degree, as an ex- 1739. elusion of the most distinguished personages in America from the first congress. This result had not been produced. Actuated by an anxious solicitude respecting the first measures of the government, its zealous friends had pressed into its service: and in both branches of the legislature were found men who possessed the fairest claims to the public confidence.
From the duties attached to his office, the vice president of the United States and president of the senate, though not a member of the legislature, was classed, in the public mind, with that department not less than with the executive. Elected by the whole people of America in common with the president, he could not fail to be taken from the most distinguished citizens, and to add to the dignity of the body over which he presided.
Mr. John Adams was one of the earliest and most ardent patriots of the revolution. Bred to the bar, he had necessarily studied the constitution of his country, and was among the most determined assertors of its rights. Active in guiding that high spirit which animated all New England, he became a member of the congress of 1774, and was among the first who dared to avow sentiments in favour of independence. In that body, he soon attained considerable eminence, and at an early stage of the war, was chosen one of the commissioners to whom was confided the charge of advocating the interests of America in Europe. In his diplomatic character, he had contributed greatly
Chap. Hi. to those measures which drew Holland into the 1789. war ; had negotiated the treaty between the United States and the Dutch republic : and had at critical pointsof time obtained loans of money which were of great advantage to his country. In the negotiations which terminated the war, he had also rendered important services: and after the ratification of the definitive articles of peace, he had been deputed to Great Britain for the purpose of effecting a commercial treaty with that nation. The political situation of America having rendered this object unattainable, he had solicited leave to return, and had arrived in the United States soon after the adoption of the constitution.
As a statesman, this gentleman had at all times ranked high in the estimation of his countrymen. He had improved a sound understanding by extensive political and historical reading; and perhaps no American had reflected more profoundly on the subject of government. The exalted opinion he entertained of his own country was flattering to his fellow citizens; and the purity of his mind, the unblemished integrity of a life spent in the public service, had gained him their confidence.
A government, supported in all its departments by so much character and talents, at the head of which was placed a man whose capacity was undoubted, whose life had been one great and continued lesson of disinterested patriotism, and for whom almost every bosom glowed with an attachment bordering on enthusiasm, could not fail to make a rapid progress in conciliating the affection of the people. That all hostility to the constitution should subside, that public measures should Chap. m. receive universal approbation; that no particular 1789. disgusts and individual irritations should be excited; were expectations which could not reasonabir be indulged. Exaggerated accounts were indeed occasionally circulated of the pomp and splendor which were affected by certain high officers, of the monarchical tendencies of particular institutions, and of the dispositions which prevailed to increase the powers of the executive. That the doors of the senate were closed, and that a disposition had been manifested by that body to distinguish the president of the United States by a title,* gave considerable umbrage, and were represented as evincing inclinations in that branch of the legislature, unfriendly to republicanism. The exorbitance of salaries was also a subject of some declamation, and the equality of commercial privileges with which foreign bottoms entered American ports, was not free from objection. But
• The following extract from a letter written July 1789, to Doctor Stuart who had communicated to him this among other private insinuations, shews the ideas entertained by the president on this subject. "It is to be lamented that a question has been stirred which has given rise to so much animadversion, and which I confess has given me much uneasiness, lest it should be supposed by some unacquainted with facts that the object in view was not displeasing to me. The truth is the question was moved before I arrived, without'any privity or knowledge of it on my part, and urged after I was apprised of it contrary to my opinion ;...for I foresaw and predicted the reception it has met with, and the use that would be made of it by the enemies of the government. Happily tfie matter is now done with, I hope never to be revived."
Cap. m. the apprehensions of danger to liberty from the 1789. new system, which had been impressed on the minds of well meaning men, were visibly wearing off; the popularity of the administration was communicating itself to the government; and the materials with which the discontented few were furnished, could not yet be efficaciously employed.
Towards the close of the session, a report on a petition which had been presented at an early period by the creditors of the public residing in the state of Pennsylvania, was taken up in the house of representatives. Many considerations rendered a postponement of this interesting subject necessary. But two resolutions were passed, the one, "declaring that the house considered an adequate provision for the support of the public credit, as a matter of high importance to the national honour and prosperity;" and the other directing, "the secretary of the treasury to prepare a plan for that purpose, and to report the same to the house at its next meeting." Adiournment On the 29th of September, congress adjourned >^ to the first monday in the succeeding January.
of the firsf session ol congress.
Throughout the whole of this laborious and important session, perfect harmony subsisted between the executive and the legislature; and no circumstance occurred which, in the slightest degree, threatened to impair it. The modes of communication between the departments of government were adjusted in a manner perfectly satisfactory; and arrangements were made on some of those delicate points in which the senate participate of executive power. After delivering his sentiments Chap. in. on this subject to a committee, the president very 1789. jusdy observed that time and experience would suggest such alterations in the mode of conducting business in which the senate was associated with the executive, as convenience and the public interests might require. The rules entered into were adapted both to oral and written communications. Some doubts appear to have existed on the correct exposition of the constitution in its provisions respecting treaties. The president has power " by and with the advice and consent of the senate to make treaties, provided two thirds of the senators present concur." Whether this clause admitted the agency of the senate previous to the negotiation, so as to advise on the instructions to be given to the ministers, or limited the exercise of their power to the treaty after being formed, or gave the president the option to adopt the one or the other mode of proceeding as his judgment might direct, were questions on which different opinions seem to have been entertained. An occasion for acting under this article of the constitution occured during this first session of congress. Under the persuasion that both policy and justice required that negotiations should precede hostil- *ities with the southern Indians, the president had determined to appoint commissioners for the purpose of examining the complaints reciprocally made by them and the states in their neighbourhood, and of endeavouring to accommodate the differences between them. The investigation of this controversy having suggested several delicate