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southern, an eastern or western position, their various political opinions on essential points, or their personal attachments; if a love of virtuous men of all parties and denominations; if a love of science and letters, and a wish to patronize every rational effort to encourage schools, colleges, universities, academies, and every institution for propagating knowledge, virtue, and religion, among all classes of the people, not only for their benign influence on the happiness of life in all its stages and classes, and of society in all its forms, but as the only means of preserving our constitution from its natural enemies, the spirit of sophistry, the spirit of party, the spirit of intrigue, the profligacy of corruption, and the pestilence of foreign influence, which is the angel of destruction to elective governments; if a love of equal laws, of justice, and humanity, in the interior administration ; if an inclination to improve agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, for necessity, convenience, and defense; if a spirit of equity and humanity toward the aboriginal nations of America, and a disposition to ameliorate their condition by inclining them to be more friendly to us, and our citizens to be more friendly to them; if an inflexible determination to maintain peace and inviolable faith with all nations, and that system of neutrality and impartiality among the belligerent powers of Europe which has been adopted by this government, and 80 solemnly sanctioned by both houses of congress, and applauded by the legislatures of the states and the public opinion, until it shall be otherwise ordained by congress ; if a personal estcem for the French nation, formed in a residence of seven years chiefly among them, and a sincere desire to preserve the friendship which has been so much for the honor and interest of both nations, if, while the conscious honor and integrity of the people of America, and the internal sentiment of their own power and energies must be preserved, an earnest endeavor to investigate every just cause, and remove every colorable pretense of complaint; if an intention to pursue by amicable negotiation a reparation for the injuries that have been committed on the commerce of our fellow-citizens, by whatever nation, and if success cannot be obtained, to lay the facts before the legislature that they may consider what further measures the honor and interest of the government and its constituents demand; if a resolution to do justice as far as may depend upon me, at all times and to all nations, and maintain peace, friendship, and benevolence, with all the world ; if an unshaken confidence in the honor, spirit, and resources of the American people, on which I have so often hazarded my all, and never been deceived; if elevated ideas of the high destinies of this country and of my own duties toward it, founded on a knowledge of the moral principles and intellectual improvements of the people, deeply engraven on my mind in early life, and not obscured but exalted by experience and age, and with humble reverence, I feel it to be my duty to add, if a veneration for the religion of a people who profess and call themselves Christians, and a fixed resolution to consider a decent respect for Christianity among the best recommendations for the public service, can enable me in any degree to comply with your wishes; it shall be my strenuous endeavor that this sagacious injunction of the two houses shall not be without effect.
“With this great example before me, with the sense and spirit, the faith and honor, the duty and interest, of the same American people pledged to support the constitution of the United States, I entertain no doubt of its continuance in all its energy; and my mind is prepared, without hesitation, to lay myself under the most solemn obligations to support it to the utmost of my power.
“ And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of order, the Fountain of justice, and the Protector, in all ages of the world, of virtuous liberty, continue bis blessing upon this nation and its government, and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of his providence !"
No change was made in the cabinet, which then consisted of Timothy Pickering, secretary of state; Oliver Wolcott, secretary of the treasury; James M'Henry, secretary of war; and Charles Lee, attorney-general. On the establishment of the navy department, the next year, Benjamin Stoddart, of Maryland, was appointed secretary of the navy; George Cabot, of Massachusetts, having been first appointed and declined.
Our ministers at the principal foreign courts were the following: Rufus King, of New York, minister to Great Britain ; appointed May 20, 1796. To France, Charles Colesworth Pinckney, of South Carolina, September 9, 1796. To Spain, David Humphreys, of Connecticut, May 20, 1796. To Portugal, John Quincy Adams, May 30, 1796. To Netherlands, William Vans Murray, March 2, 1797. These were the only foreign countries to which missions had been established. A mission to Prussia was about this time created, and John Quincy Adams was appointed minister to that country, June 1, 1797; and his place in Portugal was supplied by the appointment of William Smith, of South Carolina. Mr. Smith was a member of the house, and had been, during the whole term of Gen. Washington's administration. He was a leading member of the administration party in that body.
The relations of this country with France were, as stated in the preceding chapter, in a critical condition ; our minister having been virtually expelled from that country, and new license having been given to spoliate on our commerce. A decree had been issued, authorizing the capture of neutral vessels having on board any productions of Great
Britain or her possessions—a decree in direct violation of the rights of Ceutral nations, and especially of the treaty between France and the United States, providing that "free ships should make free goods." Numerous captures of American vessels were made under this decree, and most of the vessels were condemned. War being considered as not an improbable contingency, the president regarded the occasion as demanding a special session of the national legislature; and accordingly convened congress on the 15th of May, 1797.
Jonathan Dayton, of New Jersey, was reëlected speaker of the house. There were at this time, in both bodies, majorities in favor of the administration, and of the plan and purpose of convening congress at that particular juncture. A number of important measures were adopted, both for the preservation of peace, and for providing the means of defense.
An act was passed to prevent American citizens from privateering against nations in amity with the United States; an act prohibiting the exportation of arms and ammunition, and for encouraging their importation; an act to provide for the further defense of the ports and harbors of the United States; an act authorizing a detachment from the militia of 80,000 men, to be in readiness to march at a moment's warning, and also authorizing state executives to accept independent corps; also an act providing a naval armament. This act empowered the president, if be should deem it expedient, to cause the manning and employing of the three frigates, the United States, the Constitution, and the Constellation.
To provide for the additional expenditures required by these measures of national defense, an act was passed for “ laying duties on stamped vellum, parchment, and paper.” Some of the duties imposed by this act were as follows: For every piece of either of these articles on which was written or printed a certificate of naturalization, five dollars; for an attorney or solicitor's license to practice or a certificate of admission, ten dollars; papers containing the seal of the United States, four dollars; a certified copy of the same, two dollars; for receipts, notes, and other ordinary business instruments, from twenty-five cents to one dollar, varying according to the amount for which they were given : in short, all kinds of business paper, insurance policies, inventories, protests, &c., &c., were liable to this duty. Another act imposed an additional duty on salt imported; all drawbacks on salt exported to apply to the additional duty laid by the act; and a farther allowance was made on salt provisions exported.
Whatever may have been the justice or necessity of the duty on the stamped articles, the act was obnoxious to a large portion of the people. Both its title and its provisions resembled too much that memorable measure of 1765, which was so unsavory to the colonial fathers.
These war measures, however, were not intended to supersede farther attempts at negotiation. Congress being in session, the president nominated to the senate, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Elbridge Gerry, and John Marshall, as envoys plenipotentiary to the French republic; Mr. Pinckney being then in Holland. They met at Paris in October. They addressed a letter to the French minister of foreign affairs, in which they informed him of their appointment, and expressed their desire to wait on him at such an hour as he should please to appoint, to present their letters of credence. A verbal answer was returned naming the hour.
A novel mode of correspondence with the American ministers was adopted. Unofficial persons were employed for this purpose, who used the letters, X, Y, Z, instead of their names; as Mr. X, Mr. Y, Mr. Z. One of these individuals assured our ministers that Talleyrand had a great regard for America and her citizens, and desired a reconciliation; and that to accomplish it, he (X) would suggest a plan which Talleyrand would probably approve; viz., that certain passages in the president's message to congress, being offensive to some members of the directory, should be softened, and that this would be necessary previous to their reception; that a sum of money would be required for the pockets of the directory and ministers; and that the United States should accommodate the French government with a loan. X could not point out the exceptionable passages of the president's speech, nor the amount of the loan which would be required; but the doceur for the pocket was twelve hundred thousand livres—about fifty thousand pounds sterling. After some farther conference with X and Y, a second set of propositions was made. These propositions were wholly inadmissible ; one of which was, that the government of the United States should declare that a certain decree of the directory did not contain any thing contrary to the treaty of 1778, and was not attended with any of the fatal consequences ascribed to it. Y at length remarked : " But, gentlemen, I will not disguise from you, that this satisfaction being made, the essential part of the treaty remains to be adjusted: you must pay money ; you must pay a great deal of money."
To these demands, our ministers could not accede. The proposition for a loan in any form was not within the limits of their instructions ; and they proposed, that one of their number would forthwith embark for America to consult the government; provided the directory would suspend all further captures of American vessels, and all proceedings on those already captured, or which had not yet been disposed of. This was refused. At one of the conferences our ministers were told by X,
that we had
paid money to obtam peace with the Algerines, and with the Indians ; and that it was doing no more to pay France for peace. To which they answered, that " when our government commenced a treaty with either Algiers or the Indian tribes, it was understood that money was to form the basis of the treaty, and was its essential article; . . . but that, in treating with France, our government had supposed, that a proposition, such as he spoke of, would, if made by us, give mortal offense.” ministers, in their report of this interview, farther say: " He asked if our government did not know, that nothing was to be obtained here without money. We replied, that our government had not even suspected such a state of things. He appeared surprised at it, and said that there was not an American in Paris who could not have given that information.• . He stated that Hamburg and other states of Europe were obliged to buy a peace; and that it would be equally for our interest to do so. Once more he spoke of the danger of a breach with France, and of her power, which nothing could resist. We told him it would be vain for us to deny her power, or the solicitude we felt to avoid a contest with it; ... but that one object was still dearer to us than the friendship of France, which was our national independence; that America had taken a neutral station : she had a right to take it; no nation had a right to force us out of it; that to lend a sum of money to a belligerent power, abounding with every thing requisite for war but money, was to relinquish our neutrality, and take part in the war. To lend this money under the lash and coercion of France, was to relinquish the government of ourselves, and to submit to a foreign government imposed upon us by force; that we would make at least one manly struggle before we thus surrendered our national independence. * * * He said that France had lent us money during our revolutionary war, and only required that we should now exhibit the same friendship for her. We answered that the cases were very different; that America solicited a loan from France, and left her at liberty to refuse it; but that France demanded it of America, and left us no choice on the subject. ... There was another difference in the cases; that the money was lent by Frauce for great national and French objects: it was lent to maim a rival and an enemy whom she hated; that the money, if lent by America, would not be for any American objects, but to enable France to extend still further her conquests. The public and private advance of
money was pressed and repressed in a variety of forms. At length X said he did not blame us; that our determination was certainly proper if we could keep it; but he showed decidedly his opirion to be that we could not keep it.”
Through the agency of Z., an interview was arranged with Talleyrand,