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Chap. vi. secretary of state, and other necessary documents 1793. should be laid before the executive of the French government.
To a full view of the transactions of the executive with Mr. Genet, and an ample justification of its measures, this able diplomatic performance adds assurances of unvarying attachment toFrance, expressed in such terms of unaffected sensibility, as to render it impossible to suspect the sincerity of the concluding sentiment,..." that, after independence and self government, there was nothing America more sincerely wished than perpetual friendship with them."
An adequate idea of the passion it excited in Mr. Genet, who received the communication in September at New York, can only be produced by a perusal of his letter addressed on that occasion to the secretary of state. The asperity of his language was not confined to the president, whom he still set at defiance, whom he charged with transcending the limits prescribed by the constitution, and of whose accusation before congress he spoke as an act of justice " which the American people, which the French people, which all free people were interested to reclaim :*' nor to those "gentlemen who had been painted to him so often as aristocrats, partisans of monarchy, partisans of England, and consequently enemies of the principles which all good Frenchmen had embraced with a religious enthusiasm." Its bitterness was also extended to the secretary of state himself, whom he had been induced to consider as his personal friend, and who had, he said, *'initiated him into mysteries which had inflamed Chap.vi. his hatred against all those who aspire to an abso- 1793. lute power."
In the midst of these deliberations of the executive, Mr. Genet was received in New York with the same marks of partiality to his nation, and of flattering regard to himself, which had been exhibited in the more southern states. Here too on his part was manifested the same desire to encourage discontent at the conduct of the executive, and to embark America in the quarrel, by impressing an opinion that the existence of liberty depended on the success of the French republic, which he had uniformly avowed. In answer to an address from the republican citizens of New York, who had spoken of the proclamation of neutrality as relating only to acts of open hostility, not to the feelings of the heart; and who had declared that they would "exultingly sacrifice a liberal portion of their dearest interests could there result, on behalf of the French republic, an adequate advantage ;" he said; "in this respect I cannot bnt interpret as you have done the declaration of your government. They must know that the strict performance of treaties is the best and safest policy; they must know that good faith alone can inspire respectability to a nation; that a pusillanimous conduct provokes insult, and brings upon a country those very dangers which it weakly means to avert.
"There is indeed too much reason to fear that you are involved in the general conspiracy of tyrants against liberty. They never will, they Chap. vi. never can forgive you for having been the first to 1793. proclaim the rights of man. But you will force them to respect you by pursuing with firmness the only path which is consistent with your national honour and dignity.
"The cause of France is the cause of all mankind, and no nation is more deeply interested than you are in its success. Whatever fate awaits her, you are ultimately to share. But the cause of liberty is great and it shall prevail.
"And if France, under a despotic yoke, has been able so successfully to assert your rights, they can never again be endangered while she is at liberty to exert, in your support, that powerful arm which now defies the combined efforts of a whole world."
While the utmost exertions were successfully making to give increased force and a wider extent to opinions which might subvert the system adopted by the executive, Mr. Jay, the chief justice of the United States, and Mr. King, a senator representing the state, arrived in New York from Philadelphia. They had been preceded by a report which was whispered in private circles, that the French minister had avowed a determination to appeal from the president to the people. The confidential intercourse subsisting between these gentlemen and a part of the admin, istration, rendering it probable that this declaration, if made, must have been communicated to them, they were asked, whether the report was true? having received the information through a channel* which was entitled to the most implicit Chap.v1. faith,, they answered that it was. 179s.
Their having said so was controverted; and they were repeatedly called upon in the public papers to admit or deny that they had made such an assertion. Thus circumstanced, they published a certificate avowing that they had made the declaration which was imputed to them.
On a large portion of the people this communication made a serious impression. The recent events in Poland, whose dangers of dismemberment and partition were easily traced to the admission of foreign influence, gave additional solemnity to the occurrence, and led to a more intent consideration of the awful causes which could embolden a foreign minister to utter such a threat.
That party which in the commencement of the contests respecting the constitution was denominated federal, had generally supported the measures of the administration. South of the Potomack especially, there were certainly many important exceptions to this arrangement of parties; yet as a general arrangement, it was unquestionably correct.
In the common partialities for France, in the common hope that the revolution in that country would be crowned with success, and would produce important benefits to the human race, they had fully participated; but in the course to be
• They received it from the secretaries of the treasury ::d of war.
pursued by the United States, the line of separation between the two parties was clear and distinct. The federalists were universally of opinion that, in the existing war, America ought to preserve a neutrality as impartial as was compatible with her treaties; and that those treaties had been fairly and justly construed by the executive. Seduced however by their wishes and by their affections, they at first yielded implicit faith to the assurances given by Mr. Genet of the disinclination of the French republic to draw them from this eligible position; and from this belief they receded slowly and reluctantly.
To an inveterate hostility to those who administered the government, they were inclined to ascribe the bitter invectives which were pronounced against the executive; and, when at length they were compelled to perceive that the whole influence of Mr. Genet was employed in stimulating and pointing these invectives, they fondly indulged the hope that his nation would not countenance his conduct. Adding to their undiminished attachment to the chief of the executive, a keen sense of the disgrace, the humiliation, and the danger of permiting the American government to be forced into any system of measures by the machinations of a foreign minister with the people, they had occasionally endeavoured, through the medium of the press, to keep the public mind correct; and when it was announced that an appeal to themselves was threatened, they felt impelled by the strongest sentiments of patriotism and regard for national honour, to declare the