Page images

Chap. v. to that ill fated colony in payment of the debt to 1793. France. This being a mode of payment which, to a certain extent, was desired by the creditor and was advantageous to the debtor, a consequent disposition prevailed to use it so far as might comport with the wish of the French government; and a part of the money designed for foreign purposes was drawn into the United States. In the course of these operations, a portion of the instalments actually due to France had been permitted to remain unsatisfied.

A part of the*money borrowed in Europe being thus applicable to the extinguishment of the domestic debt, and a part of the domestic revenue being applicable to the payment of interest due on the loans made in Europe, the secretary of the treasury had appropriated a part of the money arising from foreign loans to the payment of interest due abroad, which had been replaced by the application of money in the treasury arising from domestic resources, to the purchase of the domestic debt.

The secretary had not deemed it necessary to communicate these operations in detail to the legislature: but some hints respecting them having been derived either from certain papers which accompanied a report made to the house of representatives early in the session, or from some other source, Mr. Giles, on the 23d of January, moved several resolutions, requiring information not only on the various points growing out of these loans, and of the application of the monies arising from them, but also respecting the persons, * who Chap. v. had been employed as agents in paying and receiv- 1793. ing the foreign debt, and respecting the unapplied revenues of the United States, and the places in which the sums so unapplied were deposited. In the speech introducing these resolutions, observations were made which very intelligibly implied charges of a much more serious nature than inattention to the exact letter of an appropriation law. Estimates were made to support the position that a large balance of public money was unaccounted for. —"The resolutions were agreed to without debate; and, in a few days, the secretary transmitted a report which, in three successive numbers, conveyed as far as was practicable, all the information that was required.

This report comprehended a full exposition of the views and motives which had regulated the conduct of the department, and a very able justification of the measures which had been adopted. It expressed in general terms, that in addition to his original instructions, the trust of making the loans was of course subject to the directions of the president, to be given from time to time as occasion might require; but omitted explicitly to state that the drawing of part of the money

* This information is understood to have been requested in the expectation that it might furnish some matter of crimination against the minister of the United States at Paris, who was not a favourite with the republicans in France; hut these expectations were completely disappointed.

vOL. v. D d d

Chap, v. borrowed in Europe into the United States had 1793. received his sanction....It is also chargeable with some expressions which cannot be pronounced unexceptionable, but which may find their apology in the feelings of a mind conscious of its own uprightness, and wounded by believing that the proceedings against him had originated in a spirit intirely distinct from that of fair inquiry.

These resolutions, the observations which accompanied them, and the first number of the report, were the signals for a combined attack on the secretary of the treasury through the medium of the press. Many anonymous writers appeared, who assailed the head of that department with a degree of bitterness indicative of the spirit in which the inquiry was to be conducted, at least before the tribunal of the public.

On the 27th of February, not many days after the last number of the report was received, Mr.

iusointion« Giles moved sundry resolutions which were pre

implicating » ■

^f^ydicated on the information before the house. The .uryrcjecttd. jc|ea Qp a |3a|dnce unaccounted for was necessarily relinquished; but the secretary of the treasury was charged with neglect of duty in failing to give congress official information of the monies drawn by him from Europe into the United States; with violating the law of the fourth of August 1790, by applying a portion of the principal borrowed under it to the payment of interest, and by drawing a part of the same monies into the United States, without instructions from the president: with deviating from the instructions of the president in other respects: with negotiating a loan at the bank contrary to the public interest, Chap. v. while public monies to a greater amount than 1793. were required, lay unemployed in the bank: and with an indecorum to the house, in undertaking to judge of its motives in calling for information which was demandable of him from the constitution of his office; and in failing to give all the necessary information within his knowledge relative to subjects on which certain specified references had been previously made to him.

These criminating resolutions were followed by one directing that a copy of them should be transmitted to the president of the United States.

The debate on this subject, which commenced on the 28th of February, was continued to the first of March, and was conducted with a spirit of acrimony towards the secretary, demonstrating the soreness of the wounds that had been given and received in the political and party wars which had been previously waged.* It terminated a quarter before twelve in the afternoon, by a rejection of all the resolutions. The highest number voting in favour of any one of them was sixteen. "*~

On the third of March, a constitutional period ^ was put to the existence of the present congress.adjourmThe members separated with obvious symptoms of extreme irritation; and it was not to be doubted that their utmost efforts would be exerted, to communicate to their constituents the ill humour which rankled in their own bosoms. Various causes, the most prominent of which have already

See Note, Mb. VI. at the end of the Volume.

Chap. v. been noticed, had combined to organize two 1793. distinct parties in the United States, which were rapidly taking the form of a ministerial and an opposition party. By that in opposition, the president was not yet openly renounced. His personal influence was too great to be encountered by a direct avowal that he was at the head of their adversaries; and his public conduct did not admit of a suspicion that he could allow himself to rank as the chief of a party. Nor was it possible for public opinion to implicate him in the ambitious plans and dark schemes for the subversion of liberty, which were ascribed to a part of the administration, and to the leading members who had advocated the measures of finance adopted by the legislature.

Yet it was becoming apparent that things were taking a course which must inevitably involve him, in some degree, in the political conflicts which were about to take place. It was apparent that the charges against the secretary of the treasury would not be relinquished, and that they were of a nature essentially to affect the chief magistrate, should his countenance not be withdrawn from that officer. There were too, appearances, not to be misunderstood, that the fervor of democracy which was perpetually manifesting itself in the papers in invectives against levees, against the trappings of royalty, and against the marks of peculiar respect* which were paid

• On the 22d of February, the birth day of the president, a motion was made to adjourn for half an hour. It was perfectly understood that this motion was made to give the

« PreviousContinue »