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employed in.conjunction with British regular troops; but only for single campaigns, and as militia, engaged to serve from spring to autumn. And all these transient services ended with the conquest of Canada, in 1759 and 60, which gave peace to our frontiers. The frontiers of Virginia, harassed by Indian incursions from 1754, when Washington commanded the levies of that province, were quieted in 1758; in which year, British troops and Colonial militia drove the French from the Ohio. And, at the close of that year, Washington resigned his commission. By his services in that war, he had acquired much military reputation; and his whole life, marked with eminent qualities, left him without a competitor for the chief command, at the commencement of our revolutionary war. Through the whole course of it, he served with a pure and disinterested zeat, fortitude and magnanimity, that were never surpassed in any cause; and amidst difficulties and discouragements that perhaps were never equalled. Such a character no one could view with “contempt.” In what, then, have I differed from any others, in regard to Washington ? I frankly answer that I did not ascribe to him transcendent talents as well as transcendent virtues. These, combined, would constitute a character that has rarely if ever existed. Washington, far from assuming, uniformly disclaimed it; both when he accepted the Command of the Army in 1775, and when he received the Presidency of the United States in 1789. In these two great acts, deliberately contemplated, and performed with the deepest anxiety, it was manifested, that the highest public employments not being with him objects of ambition, he relinquished the pursuits and endearments of private life, purely in obedience to the voice of his country, to whose service all his faculties were ever devoted. With such feelings, and a painful apprehension of the great responsibility attached to those offices, to accept of them raised still higher his character of exalted patriotism. He consented to hazard his reputation, at momentous crises, when his numerous judicious friends, on whose fidelity and correct opinions he had just reason to rely, assured him that the public voice, as well as the public welfare, demanded the sacrifice of all private considerations.
My general views of Washington's character coincide with those of some who had frequent and intimate opportunities of knowing it, and of some of our most judicious public writers. Among all the cotemporaries of Washington, no man had more or better (I may say no one had equal) opportunities of knowing Washington, than Alexander Hamilton; and I presume it will be admitted, that no man was more competent to form a correct judgment of his character. For more than four years, Hamilton was an important member of General Washington's military family, in the revolutionary war; and six years Secretary of the Treasury, when Washington was President of the United States; and his constant correspondent during the rest of his life. Hamilton was too just to detract, and too sincere to flatter. In his well known letter on the public conduct and character of John Adams, he mentions “the
incomparably superior weight and transcendent popularity of General Washington”_" the venerated " Washington”—“ the modest and sage Washington”" the virtuous and circumspect Washington”—“ the “dead patriot and hero, the admired and beloved Wash“ington.” In the same letter, contrasting the precipitation of President Adams with the deliberate judgment of Washington, he says of the latter, “He consulted “ much, pondered much, resolved slowly, resolved súre“ ly.” And in his letter, consequent on his resignation of the treasury department, in answer to a “very kind” one from Washington, Hamilton says, “I entreat you “ to be persuaded (not the less för my having been
sparing of professions) that I shall never cease to ren“ der a just tribute to those eminent and excellent qua“ lities which have been already productive of so many “ blessings to your country.""*
I will close my observations respecting Washington with the opinion of that well informed and judicious * Marshall's Life of Washington, vol. v, appendix, p. 28.
historian, the late Dr. David Ramsay. In his history of the American Revolution, he writes thus of Washington: “ Possessed of a large proportion of common
sense directed by a sound judgment, he was better “ fitted for the exalted station to which he was called, “than many others who to greater brilliancy of parts frequently add the eccentricity of original genius.”“ His soul, superiour to party spirit, to prejudice and “illiberal views, moved according to the impulses it “ received from an honest heart, a good understanding, common sense, and a sound judgment."
To the correctness of these views of Washington's character, by Hamilton and Ramsay, I give my cordial assent; while I deny the other part of Mr. Adams's assertion, that “ I appeared to the world a devout adorer " of him.” In truth, I never adored any man; I never flattered any man; and I never attempted to appear what I was not; choosing rather to hazard giving offence, than to practise any sort of prevarication.
In the same letter, No. XVII, and immediately following the preceding charge, Mr. Adams says of me, “No man was a more animated advocate for the French; “yet now he is as zealous for the English.” As to the former, at the commencement of their revolution, my sentiments corresponded with those of my
fellow-citizens generally ; rejoicing in the prospect of their establishing a free government, in the place of an unlimited monarchy. To this sentiment there were very few exceptions in the United States. But, in the progress of the revolution, the unexampled atrocities committed at Paris and in other parts of France excited my abhorrence. When at length order was restored, and a republican government was formed, with "checks and balances” which authorized a hope of its permanent establishment, I again rejoiced. But when this new government swerved from republican principles; when its acts were a continued and extensive exhibition of tyranny, injustice and corruption; and especially when these evil dispositions were manifested in unexampled injuries and insults towards the United States and their government, the French Rulers, and those who executed their commands, were to me objects of horror and detestation. The honour, under these circumstances, of having continued to cherish French attachments, I cheerfully leave to those who were ambitious of it, and to their new adherents.
* Vol. i, p. 217.
With regard to the English, my opposition to their claims, during our controversies with their government, and in the war which succeeded, was constant and uniform. When our independence was established, and peace proclaimed, my enmity ceased To indulge the sentiment in the declaration of independence, “ hold them, as we should hold the rest of mankind, En“emies in War-in Peace, Friends”-accorded as well with my inclination as my duty. Without such a temper among the people of any country, and especially in its rulers, permanent peace cannot be expected. Mr. Adams, in his public letters, takes credit to himself as a friend to peace; and, with some ostentation, repeats, as if it were a maxim peculiar to himself, or at least not common, that he always held a state of neutrality to be the true policy and the great interest of the United States; yet in various places he utters sentiments tending to engender hostilities with England. Such, no doubt, appeared to him to be the prevalent feeling of his old opponents, the adherents of Mr. Jefferson, with whom he and his son had coalesced. In his letter No. XXVI, February 11, 1809, to Cunningham, he pronounces “Great-Britain to be the natural “enemy of the United States." Yet our commercial intercourse with that country is of greater interest to the United States than that with any other country on the globe. It was that intercourse which rapidly enriched our southern and western states, the growers of cotton; and it will continue to add to their wealth and comforts, if not interrupted or embarrassed by our own impolitic restraints. But its benefits are not confined to the cotton-growing states; they extend to every state in the Union. Å new reason now urges the Uni,
ted States to maintain a friendly connexion with GreatBritain : Hers is the only free and independent country in Europe ; and Ours the only other country in the World in a condition to co-operate with Britain in sustaining the cause of liberty on the Earth.
If for entertaining such sentiments as these I shall be visited with reproaches, let them come-I am willing to bear them.
Many have exclaimed with horror at the breach of faith which has brought to light the CORRESPONDENCE between Mr. Adams and his friend Cunningham; and they concentrate their reproaches on the head of the son who has given it to the public. But what is the real cause of all this horror? Suppose another person had communicated to Cunningham, ingenious dissertations in philosophy, in morals, or in religion, or the animated effusions of a heart warmed with benevolence, but which the modest and retiring author would venture to impart only to a bosom friend, and especially not to be made public during the writer's life ; and suppose this friend struck with the beauties and excellencies of the compositions, and convinced of their utility, if made known; would the disclosure of them, by the anticipation of a few years, be thought an unpardonable crime? On the contrary, would it not be deemed a very venial fault? Who would have regretted the opportunity, thus afforded, to bestow on the modes“ author present instead of posthumous praise, which all would pronounce his due, and which even he, now entirely satisfied of the merit of his work, could himself enjoy ?
But what is the character of the “ CORRESPONDENCE? An exhibition of the worst passions of the human heart.