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ceptionable, or at least most vulnerable to attack, were the reduction of the revenue, the army, and navy, the revision of the judicial system, and the proposed facility to naturalization; all of which they attributed either to false or visionary notions of government, or to an unprincipled sacrifice of the best interests of the nation to popular prejudices. The very mode of communication, which has since received the sanction of general usage, and which is in accordance with the universal practice in the States, did not escape censure, but was arraigned as proceeding from an overweening desire of popularity, and a covert design to cast an invidious shade on the character of General Washington and Mr. Adams.
All these measures were the more unacceptable, because if they had a fortunate issue, they would be at once a practical rebuke on their own course when in power, and a triumphant vindication of that of the republicans. The best talents of the party were therefore put in requisition to bring them into discredit with the people, and to show that so far as they were able to reduce the taxes and yet make good the public engagements, they were indebted to the schemes of finance introduced by their predecessors, and which they had invariably opposed. The general expressions of philanthropy which occasionally found a place in the message, were sneered at as an offering to a spurious philosophy then in vogue; and disaster and ruin were confidently predicted to the nation for committing the reins to those who had neither the skill nor firmness to guide them. Among these attacks, one of the most distinguished both for talent and bitterness, was a pamphlet attributed to Alexander Hamilton, which, after bestowing the harshest strictures on every part of the message, and a warm panegyric on the policy of the preceding administrations, interspersed with sarcasms on the personal character of the President, concludes in the following strain of scornful obloquy :-“ Consummate in the
paltry science of courting and winning popular favour, they falsely infer that they have the capacity to govern, and they will be the last to discover their error. But let them be assured that the people will not long continue the dupes of their pernicious sorceries. Already the cause of truth has derived this advantage from the crude essays of their chief, that the film has been removed from many an eye. The credit of great abilities was allowed him by a considerable portion of those who disapproved his principles, but the short space of nine months has been amply sufficient to dispel that illusion ; and even some of his most partial votaries begin to suspect, that they have been mistaken in the object of their idolatry.”
Mr. Jefferson had however the consolation of knowing that his course, so obnoxious to his adversaries, was approved by his friends, who constituted a great majority of the American people; and, confident it was adapted to the solid interests of the nation as well as suited to its ruling tastes, he trusted to time to justify him in the eyes of the fairer portion even of his opponents. In this expectation he was not disappointed.
Proposed reforms of the Administration Party. Recent Judiciary Law.
- views of parties as to its repeal. Internal Taxes. The Public Debt-mistaken views of both parties concerning it. The President's Financial Views. Convention with England. Cession of Louisiana to France. Lively interest excited by it in the United States. Mr. Jefferson's instructions to Mr. Livingston. Views of the effect of the Cession of Louisiana, Callender's Libels. Piers in the Delaware. Forbearance towards his opponents. The right of deposit at New Orleans interdicted by Spain. Meeting of Congress. Annual Message. Dry Docks. Resolution on the conduct of Spain. Mr. Monroe's mission to France-motives for the appointment.
In this Congress, by reason of the recent favourable changes in some of the States, the republican party had a small majority in both Houses. They therefore determined to carry their plans of reform and economy into execution, whilst their adversaries prepared to resist their schemes to the utmost, by every means which wit, logic, or legislative tactics could effect. The two great objects of party contest, were the repeal of the internal taxes, and of the law which created a new set of federal courts at the preceding session.
The circumstances under which this alteration in the judicial system was made had given great offence to the repub. lican party, and had furnished them with a copious theme of reproach against their adversaries. It was insisted that the system, as previously organized, was fully competent to the performance of all the business brought before them, limited
as was the jurisdiction of the federal courts to the cases specified by the constitution, and that one class of the suits there litigated, that of British debts, which had hitherto furnished the principal part of their business, was every day growing less. The creation then of twenty-four new courts, when the business in those already established was declining rather than decreasing, was regarded as merely making provision for that number of federal partizans at the public expense. It was further said that even if the public interest had called for this addition to the number of federal judges,
would have been but an act of decent respect for the majority of the community, to allow the President clect to appoint the judges, especially as all those previously appointed belonged to the federal party. But the injustice was aggravated by the utter disregard of the feelings and wishes of the majority, and the earnest, and even indecorons impatience manifested to exercise power to the last moment, for the benefit of a party too, on which the people had passed a sentence of condemnation. This law having received the President's signature on the 13th of February, there was of course less than three weeks for the appoint ments to be made and to pass the Senate, and to effect their purpose in so short a time it is said that the signing of some of the commissions of the judges was not completed until the last hour of the last day of Mr. Adams's administration. It was in allusion to this fact that they were often then called in derision,“ the midnight judges.”
This law and these appointments then were so generally regarded by the republican party as a gross abuse of power, and under the forms of laws, as a fraud on the rights of the majority, that they were well inclined to annul the act, by a repeal of the law, if it could be done consistently with the constitution, one of the provisions of which seemed at first view to forbid it. Legal acumen was therefore put in re
quisition to interpret that instrument so as to surmount the difficulty, and according to the ordinary effect of such mental process, it was finally successful.
The federal party, on the other hand, congratulated themselves on this state of policy, and felt secure of the issue. As things were they had the whole corps of the judiciary of their party, and this number of corps greatly increased, and diffised throughout the Union; and what was a minor concern to the party, secured places of distinction and emolument to partizans. These circumstances favoured the continuance of the law. If, however, the triumphant party should attempt to repeal it, they believed it would afford them abundant materials to bring their adversaries into discredit with the people, who would thus have their eyes opened, and see that those who had been advocates for a strict interpretation of the constitution, could be ultra latitudinarian in construing it when it suited their purpose: and what with all their pretended fears of the designs of the federalists and their noisy clamours for the interests of the people, they had only the acquisition of power and office in view. So confident were the federalists of the advantage they would have over their adversaries in this argument, that they actually wished the latter would carry their purpose into execution. They, at all events, hoped they would attempt it, as whether they succeeded or failed, it would furnish them with the same fruitful theme of party reproach, and of making eloquent appeals in behalf of the violated constitution.
It appears by a letter which Mr. Jefferson wrote to his venerable friend John Dickinson on the 19th of December, that he did not then look forward to the repeal of the judiciary law. “My great anxiety," he says, “is at present to avail ourselves of an ascendency to establish good principles and good practices; to fortify republicanism behind as many barriers as possible, that the outworks may give time to