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incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, Chap.ix,' as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest. 1796.
"Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations; I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government... the ever favourite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours, and dangers."
The sentiments of veneration with which this address was generally received were manifested in almost every part of the union. Some of the state legislatures directed it to be inserted at large in their journals; and nearly all of them passed resolutions expressing their respect for the person of the president, their high sense of his exalted services, and the emotions with which they contemplated his retirement from office. Although the leaders of party might rejoice at this event, it produced solemn and anxious reflections in the great body even of those who belonged to the opposition.
The person in whom alone the voice of the people could be united having declined a re-election, the two great parties in America respectively brought forward their chiefs; and every possible effort was made by each to obtain the victory. By the federalists, Mr. John Adams, and Mr.
Chap, ix. Thomas Pinckney, the late minister at London^ 1796. were supported as president and vice president: the whole force of the opposite party was exerted in favour of Mr. Jefferson.
To the motives which usually impel men in a struggle to retain or acquire power, were added, on this occasion, others of vast influence. Upon the choice of the chief magistrate was believed greatly to depend, not only the continuance or the change of those principles on which the internal affairs of the United States had been administered, but of the conduct which had been observed towards foreign nations. By one party, the system pursued by the existing administration with regard to the belligerent powers had been uniformly approved; by the other, it had been as uniformly condemned. The opposition had acrimoniously censured all its measures as being so justly offensive to France, that only the affection of that republic for the American people had prevented those open hostilities which the acts of their government had invited. In the contests therefore which preceded the choice of electors, the justice of the complaints which were made on the part of the French republic were minutely discussed, and the consequences which were to be apprehended from her resentment, or from yielding to her pretensions, were reciprocally urged as considerations entitled to great weight-in the ensuing election.
« In such a struggle, it was not to be expected that foreign powers could feel absolutely uncon
cerned. In November, while the parties were so Chap.w. balanced that neither scale could be perceived to 1796. preponderate, Mr. Adet addressed a letter to the The minuter secretary of state, in which he recapitulated theencw"TMrs
. to influence
numerous complaints which had been urged byj^ggjg*himself and his predecessors against the government of the United States; reproached that government in terms of great asperity with violating those treaties which had secured its independence, with ingratitude to France, and with partiality to England. These wrongs which commenced with the " insidious" proclamation of neutrality, were said to be so aggravated by the treaty concluded with Great Britain, that Mr. Adet announced the orders of the directory to suspend his ministerial functions with the federal government. "But the cause," he added, "which had so long restrained the just resentment of the executive directory from bursting forth now tempered its effects. The name of America, notwithstanding the wrongs of its government, still excited sweet emotions in the hearts of Frenchmen; and the executive directory wished not to break with a people whom they loved to salute with the appellation of a friend." This suspension of his functions therefore was not to be regarded "as a rupture between France and the United States, but as a mark of just discontent which was to last until the government of the United States returned to sentiments and to measures more conformable to the interests of the alliance, and to the sworn friendship between the two nations."
Chap.ix. This letter was concluded in the following 1796. terms.
"Alas! Time has not yet demolished the fortifications •with which the English roughened this country...nor those the Americans raised for their defence; their half rounded summits still appear in every quarter, amidst plains, on the tops of mountains. The traveller need not search for the ditch which served to encompass them ; it is still open under his feet. Scattered ruins of houses laid waste, which the fire had partly respected, in order to leave monuments of British fury, are still to be found....Men still exist, who can say, here a ferocious Englishman slaughtered my father; there my wife tore her bleeding daughter from the hands of an unbridled Englishman....Alas! the soldiers who fell under the sword of the Britons are not yet reduced to dust: the labourer in turning up his field, still draws from the bosom of the earth their whitened bones; while the ploughman with tears of tenderness and gratitude, still recollects that his fields, now covered with rich harvests, have been moistened with French blood. While every thing around the inhabitants of this country animates them to speak of the tyranny of Great Britain, and of the generosity of Frenchmen; when England has declared a war of death to that nation, to avenge herself for its having cemented with its blood the independence of the United States :...It was at this moment their government made a treaty of amity with their ancient tyrant, the implacable enemy of their ancient ally. Oh Americans covered with noble scars! Oh you. who have so often flown to death and to victory with French soldiers'. You who know those generous sentiments which distinguish the true warrior! whos- hearts have always vibrated with those of your companions in arms! consult them to day to know what they experience; recollect at the same time that if magnanimous souls wiih liveliness resent an affront, they also know how to forget one. Let your government return to itself, and you will still find in Frenchmen faithful friends and generous allies."
As if to remove all doubts respecting the purpose for which this extraordinary letter was written, a copy was, on the day of its date, Chap.ix. transmitted to a printer for publication.* 1796.
Whatever motives might have impelled Mr. Adet to make this open and direct appeal to the American people, in the critical moment of their election of a chief magistrate, it does not appear in any material degree to have influenced that election. Many reflecting men who had condemned the course of the administration, could not approve this interference in the internal affairs of the United States; and the opposite party, generally, resented it as an attempt to control the operations of the American people in the exercise of one of the highest acts of sovereignty, and to poison the fountain of their liberty and independence by mingling foreign intrigue with their elections. Viewing it as a fulfilment of their most gloomy prognosticks respecting the designs of France to establish an influence in the councils of America, they believed the best interests of their country to require that it should be defeated, and their exertions against the candidate Mr. Adet was understood to favour, were perhaps the more determined and the more vigorous.
On the seventh of December, while this dubious and ardently contested election was depending, the president, for the last time, met the national legislature in the senate chamber. His address on the occasion was comprehensive, temperate,
• An abstract from the letter, calculated to place in a strong point of view the accusations of France against the executive, was immediately published.
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