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disagreements which have arisen from difference Chap. v. of opinions, and the attacks which have been made 1792, upon almost all the measures of government, and most of its executive officers, have for a long time past filled me with painful sensations, and cannot fail, I think, of producing unhappy consequences, at home and abroad." -—
In a subsequent letter to the same gentleman, in answer to one which enclosed some documents designed to prove that, though desirous of amending the constitution, he had favoured its adoption, the president said, "I did not require the evidence of the extracts which you enclosed me, to convince me of your attachment to the constitution of the United States, or of your disposition to promote the general welfare of this country;...but I regret...deeply regret the difference of opinion which has arisen, and divided you and another principal officer of the government;...and wish devoutly there could be an accommodation of them by mutual yieldings.
"A measure of this sort would produce har. mony and consequent good in our public councils; ...and the contrary will inevitably produce confusion and serious mischiefs ;...and for what? because mankind cannot think alike, but would adopt different means to attain the same end. For I will frankly and solemnly declare that I believe the views of both to be pure and well meant, and that experience only will decide with respect to the salubrity of the measures which are the subjects of this dispute.
Chaf. v. "Why then, when some of the best citizens o 1T92. the United States,... men of discernment,... uniform and tried patriots,...who have no sinister views to promote, but are chaste in their ways of thinking and acting, are to be found some on one side, and some on the other of the questions which have caused these agitations ;...why should either of you be so tenacious of your opinions as to make no allowance for those of the other?
"I could, and indeed was about to add more on this interesting subject, but will forbear, at least for the present, after expressing a wish that the cup which has been presented to us may not be snatched from our lips by a discordance of action, when I am persuaded there is no discordance in your views....I have a great, a sincere esteem and regard for you both; and ardently wish that some line could be marked out by which both of you could walk."
These earnest endeavours to sooth the angry passions, and to conciliate the jarring discords of the cabinet, were unsuccessfull. The hostility which was so much and so sincerely lamented sustained no diminution, and its consequences became every day more diffusive.
Among the immediate effects of these internal dissensions, was the encouragement they afforded to a daring and criminal resistance which was made to the execution of the laws imposing a duty on spirits distilled within the United States.
To the inhabitants of that part of Pennsylvania which lies west of the Alleghany mountains, this duty was, from local considerations, peculiarly hateful. Nor did they feel affections for those Chap. v. with whom it originated, which might diminish 1793 the hostility it was calculated to inspire. From that section of the state, the constitution itself had experienced the most decided opposition; and that early enmity to the government which exerted every faculty to prevent its adoption, had sustained no abatement. Its measures generally, and the whole system of finance particularly, had been reprobated with peculiar bitterness by many of the most influential men of that district. With these dispositions, a tax law, the operation of which was extended to them, could not be favourably received, however general might be the support it should experience from other parts of the union. But when to this pre-existing temper were superadded the motives which arose from perceiving that the measure was censured on the floor of congress as unnecessary and tyrannical; that resistance to its execution was treated as probable; that a powerful, influential, and active party, pervading the union, arraigned with extreme acrimony the whole system of finance as being hostile to liberty; and, with all the passionate vehemence of conviction, charged its advocates with designing to subvert the republican institutions of America; we ought not to be surprised that the awful impressions which are usually occasioned by combinations to resist the laws were lessened, and that the malcontents were emboldened to hope that those combinations might be successfull.
On first introducing the act, some discontents had been manifested in several parts of the union;
▼OL, v. A a a
THE LIFE OFChap.v. but by the prudence and firmness of the government and its officers, they had been dissipated; and the law had been carried into general operation.
opp»if.on But in the district of Pennsylvania which has been
to the excise . • ■ f
>»»• mentioned, the resistance wore the appearance ol
system, and was regularly progressive. In its commencement, it manifested itself by the circulation of opinions calculated to increase the odium in which the duty was held, and by endeavours to defeat its collection by directing the public resentments against those who were inclined either to comply with the law, or to accept the offices through which it was to be executed. These indications of ill temper were succeeded by neighbourhood meetings, in which resolutions of extreme violence were adopted, and by acts of outrage against the persons of revenue officers. At length, in September 1791, a meeting of the delegates from the malcontent counties was held at Pittsburg, in which resolutions were adopted breathing the same spirit with those which had previously been agreed to in county assemblies. With the proscription of all those who should execute or obey the law, who were stigmatized as enemies to the country, were associated those topics of accusation against the government which have already been enumerated. Unfortunately, the deputy marshal who was intrusted with the process against those who had committed acts of violence on the persons of revenue officers, was so intimidated by the turbulent spirit which was generally displayed, that he returned without performing his duty; and thus added to the confidence felt by the disaffected in their strength. Appearances were such as to justify apprehen- Chap. v. sions, that the judiciary would be found unable to 1792. punish the infractors of the laws; and the means by which executive aid could be furnished had not been organized by the legislature. This state of things was the more embarrassing, because the prejudices which had been widely disseminated, and the misconceptions of the act which had been extensively diffused, authorized some fears respecting the support which the law, while yet in the infancy of its operation, would receive from the people. These considerations added to that repugnance which was felt by the government to the employment of harsh means, induced a forbearance to notice further their riotous proceedings, until the measure, by being carried into full effect in other parts of the union, should be better understood; and until congress should assemble, and modify the system in such a manner as to remove any real objections to it, the existence of which might be suggested by experience. Accordingly, in the legislature which convened in October 1791, this subject was taken up in pursuance of the recommendation of the president, and an amendatory act was passed in May 1792, in which the whole system was revised, and great pains were taken to alter such parts of it as could be deemed exceptionable.