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indignation which the threat had inspired. In Chap.vi. every quarter of the union, the people assembled 1793. in their districts, and the strength of parties was fully tried. The contest was warm and strenuous. But public opinion appeared to preponderate greatly in favour of neutrality, and of the proclamation by which its observance was directed. It was apparent too, that the American bosom still glowed with ardent affection for their chief magistrate; and that, however successful might have been the shafts directed against some of those who shared his confidence, the arrows aimed at himself had missed their mark.
Yet it was not to be concealed that the indiscreet arrogance of Mr. Genet, the direct insults to the president, and the attachment which many, who were in opposition to the general measures of the administration, still retained for the person of that approved patriot, contributed essentially to the prevalence of the sentiment which was called forth by the occasion.
In the resolutions expressing the strongest approbation of the executive, and the greatest abhorrence of foreign influence, a decided partiality for France was frequently manifested; and in those of a contrary description, respect for the past services of the president, and a willingness to support the executive in the exercise of its constitutional functions, seemed, when introduced, to be reluctantly placed among the more agreeable declarations of detestation for those who sought to dissolve the union between America and France, and of the earnestness with which the French re
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Chap, vi volution ought to be espoused by all the friend* IT93. of liberty.
The effect which the certificate of Mr. Jay and Mr. King might possibly produce was not unforeseen; and Mr. Genet sought to avoid its influence by involving its veracity in doubt. Not only had it never been alleged that the exceptionable expressions were used to the president personally, but it was certain that they had not been uttered in his presence. Affecting not to have adverted to this obvious circumstance, the minister, on the 13th of August, addressed a letter to the chief magistrate, which being designed for publication, was itself the act he had threatened, in which he subjoined to a detail of his accusations against the executive, the demand of an explicit declaration that he had never intimated to him an intention to appeal to the people.
On the 16th this letter was answered by the secretary of state, who, after acknowledging its receipt by the president, added, "I am desired to observe to you that it is not the established course for the diplomatic characters residing here to have any direct correspondence with him. The secretary of state is the organ through which their communications should pass.
"The president does not conceive it to be within the line of propriety or duty, for him to bear evidence against a declaration, which, whether made to him or others is perhaps immaterial; he therefore declines interfering in the case."
Seldom has more conclusive testimony been offered of the ascendency which, in the conflicts
of party, the passions maintain over reason, than Chap, vivas exhibited on this occasion by the zealous 179a. partisans of the French minister. It might have been expected that, content with questioning the fact, or with diverting the obloquy attending it from the French nation, no American would have been found hardy enough to justify it, and but few to condemn those gentlemen by whose means it reached the public ear. Nothing could be further removed from this expectation, than the conduct that was actually observed. The censure merited by the expressions themselves fell not upon the person who had used them, but upon those who had communicated them to the public. By writers of considerable political eminence, they were declared to be members of a powerful faction who were desirous of separating America from France, and connecting her with England for the purpose of introducing the British constitution. They had caught, it was said, with eagerness at some supposed misunderstanding between the minister of that republic and the president; and this stratagem had been used in the hope that, by the popularity of the latter, the regard for the nation of the former might be diminished.
As if no sin could equal the crime of disclosing to the people a truth which, by inducing reflection, might check the flood of that passion for France which was deemed the surest test of patriotism, the darkest motives were assigned for the disclosure, and the reputation of those who made it could be rescued only by a lapse of years, and by M m m 2
c1iAP.vt a change of the subjects of controversy, from "T79S. the peculiar party odium with which they were at the time overwhelmed.
Sentiments of a still more extraordinary nature were openly avowed. In a republican country,
i,t was said, the people alone were the basis of government. All powers being derived from them, might, by them, be withdrawn at pleasure. They alone were the authors of the law, and to them alone, must the ultimate decision on the interpretation belong. From these delicate and popular truths, it was inferred, that the doctrine that the sovereignty of the nation resided in the constituted authorities was incompatible with the principles of liberty; and that, if Mr. Genet dissented from the interpretation given by the president to existing treaties, he might right.
fully appeal to the real sovereign whose agent the president was, and to whom he was responsible for his conduct. Is the president, it was asked,
a. consecrated character, that an appeal from his decisions must be considered criminal? or are the people in such a state of monarchical degradation, that to speak of consulting them is an offence as great as if America groaned under a dominion equally tyrannical with the old monarchy of France?
It was soon ascertained that Mr. Dallas, to whom this threat of appealing to the people was said to have been delivered, did not admit that the precise expressions had been used. Mr. Genet then, in the coarsest terms, averred the falsehood of the certificate which had been published, and demanded from the attorney general and from the Chap. Vi. government, that Mr. Jay and Mr. King should 1793. be indicted for a libel upon himself and his nation. Entirely persuaded that the case would not sustain the prosecution, and not thinking himself officially bound to proceed against his judgment, the attorney general after much deliberation, declined the measure he was urged to take; but accompanied his refusal with the information that any other gentleman of the profession, who might approve and advise the attempt, could be at no loss to point out a mode which would not require his intervention.
While the minister of the French republic thus loudly complained of the unparalleled injury he received from being charged with employing a particular exceptionable phrase, he seized every fair occasion to carry into full execution the threat which he denied having made. His letters, written for the purpose of publication, and actually published by himself, accused the executive, before the tribunal of the people, on those specific points, from its decisions respecting which he was said to have threatened the appeal. As if the offence lay, not in perpetrating the act, but in avowing an intention to perpetrate it, this demonstration of his designs did not render his advocates the less vehement in his support, nor the less acrimonious in reproaching the administration, as well as Mr. Jay and Mr. King. Whilst insult was thus added to insult, the utmost vigilance of the executive officers was scarcely sufficient to maintain a full observance of the rules