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take to answer the calumnies of the newspapers, it would be more than all my own time, and that of twenty aids could effect. For while I should be answering one, twenty new ones would be invented. I have thought it better to trust to the justice of my countrymen, that they would judge me by what they see of my conduct on the stage where they have placed me, and what they knew of me before the epoch since which a particular party bas supposed it might answer some view of their's to vilify me in the public eye. Some, I know, will not reflect how apocryphal is the testimony of enemies so palpably betraying the views with which they give it. But this is an injury to which duty requires every one to submit, whom the public think proper to call into its councils."

The Irish patriot, Archibald Hamilton Rowan, like all the other ardent votaries of civil liberty who had migrated to this country, regarded Mr. Jefferson as a congenial spirit, and soon communicated with him both by letter and in person. We find him, also, during the present year, not only in correspondence with Volney, the celebrated Kosciusko, and this Irish gentleman, but extending to them the rites of hospitality at Monticello. After noticing to the last the great change which had taken place in public sentiment within the last seven years, he adds:-“The commerce of England, however, has spread its roots over the whole face of our country. This is the real source of all the obliquities of the public mind: and I should have doubts of the ultimate term they might attain, but happily, the game, to be worth the playing of those engaged in it, must flush them with money. The authorized expenses of this year are beyond those of any year in the late war for independence, and they are of a nature to beget great and constant expenses. The purse of the people is the real seat of sensibility. It is to be drawn on largely, and they will then listen to truths which could not excite them through any other organ.” He tells Mr. Rowan that, if he should choose Virginia for his asylum, he will find himself secure from the reach of unconstitutional power, and makes a tender of his kind offices.*

* It was about this time that the writer of these pages first saw Mr.

Mr. Jefferson considered that the resentment against France, or what he called the X Y Z fever, * had considerably abated through the country, and that the alien and sedition laws were working hard; that he considered those laws as an experiment on the American mind, to see how far it would bear an avowed violation of the constitution. "If this goes down," he adds, “we shall immediately see attempted another act of Congress, declaring that the president shall continue in office during life, reserving to another occasion the transfer of the succession to his heirs, and the establishment of the Senate for life. At least this may be the aim of the Oliverians, while Monk and the cavaliers (who are perhaps the strongest) may be playing their game for the restoration of his most gracious majesty George the Third. That these things are in contemplation I have no doubt; nor can I be confident of their failure, after the dupery of which our countrymen have shown themselves susceptible."

These sentiments are an evidence of the lengths to which party men go in their opinions and suspicions of their opponents: and it must be admitted that, if Mr. Jefferson experienced the most virulent hatred, and the most unfounded calumny of his adversaries, he was, occasionally, not far behind them in credulity and injustice, and that he did not hesitate to attribute to them purposes which no honest mind could form, and no rational mind would attempt.

In his estimate of the future effects of the course then pursued by the party in power, his opinions were more just. He predicted to Colonel John Taylor that some of the laws passed

Jefferson, at his own house at Monticello. Though in retirement, he was the acknowledged head and leader of the republican party, not only in Virginia, but throughout the United States. The public mind was then in an unprecedented serment, and the republican party was as much roused by the alien and sedition laws, which had been passed at the previous Congress, as the federal party by the conduct of the French government. Yet Mr. Jefferson was so guarded in his conduct and expressions as to obtain at the time the character of unusual moderation among his neighbours. Though his house was still unfinished, he entertained much company, but he rarely made visits.

Alluding to the mode by which the secret French agents had been designated by the American envoys.

at the preceding session, would produce a revolution in public sentiment. He admitted that there was a most respectable part of the state of Virginia, who had been enveloped in the “XYZ delusion, and who destroy our unanimity for the present moment,” but added, “this disease of the imagination will pass over, because the patients are essentially republican. Indeed, the doctor is now on his way to cure it, in the guise of a taxgatherer. But give time for the medicine to work, and for the repetition of stronger doses, which must be administered.” — “Nothing but excessive taxation can get us along, and this will carry reason and reflection to every man's door.”

He thought that if a single amendment to the Constitution could be obtained, by which the power of borrowing money could be taken from the federal government, he would rely upon it to bring back the government to its true principles. The consequence of which would be to raise, by annual taxes, supplies adequate to the expenses of the year. He admits that this, in case of a war, would be hard, but says it would not be so hard as ten wars instead of one.

Colonel Taylor was at that time a leading member of the Virginia Assembly, and the following remarks had a reference to the course which he thought it expedient for that body to take at the approaching session in December: “For the present, I should be for resolving the alien and sedition laws to be against the constitution, and merely void, and for addressing other states to obtain similar declarations; and I would not do any thing which should commit us further, but reserve ourselves to shape our future measures, or no measures, by the events which may happen.”

This legislative declaration that the alien and sedition laws were unconstitutional and therefore void, was the first

of the doctrine which was afterwards more fully developed and more precisely defined, in the draught of the Kentucky resolutions, and which has recently made such a figure in the contests of party, under the name of nullification. Whatever disa. greement there may be about Mr. Jefferson's subsequent opinions of the nature and extent of this right of the states, it seems



not probable that he, at this time, comtemplated anything more than a declaration of opinion, for the purpose of producing a moral influence on the public sentiment; “Though it is not improbable that he might purposely have left the question of active resistance in doubt, with a view of operating on the fears of all who would dread a collision between the general and the state governments.

He sends Colonel Taylor also a petition for a reformation in the appointment of juries, which was to be presented to the next legislature. The avowed and real object of this was to afford some additional protection to the citizens of Virginia, who might be prosecuted under the sedition law: but probably another and yet stronger motive was to excite a livelier apprehension of its dangers and mischiefs, by these legislative provisions against them, and thus to increase the popular odium already strongly felt against the law, because of its unconstitutionality.

He remarks in the language which very truly expressed his feelings and that of the warmer portion of his political associates at the time, but which few will not now regard as the exaggeration of party discontent—"It is a singular phenomenon that, while our state governments are the very best in the world, without exception or comparison, our general government has, in the rapid course of nine or ten years, become more arbitrary, and has swallowed up more of the public liberty than even that of England. I inclose you a column cut out of a London paper, to show you that the English, though charmed with our makin their enemies our enemies, yet blush and weep over our sedition law.”

During the ten years that the present federal government had been in operation, many questions had arisen concerning the interpretation of the constitution. But there had been no instance in which the opinion that that instrument had been violated was so decided, or in which the supposed infraction had excited so much sensibility as these two laws, which were always coupled together in the public mind, as having originated in the same policy, and as leading to the same tendency. But in point of fact it was the law that abridged the freedom of the


press which was most looked at, and the other was condemned by most Americans, like the stork in the fable, for the society in which it was found, and for the sake of soothing the great mass of foreigners, who were not yet naturalized, the greater part of whom, particularly the Irish and French, were attached to the republican party.

To most men of cool tempers and unsophisticated minds, who could not or would not resort to refinements of reasoning, it seemed that the clause of the constitution which prohibited Congress from passing any law which abridged the freedom of speech or of the press, had intended to interdict them from passing any law whatever upon the subject; that the distinction between liberty and licentiousness on which the advocates of the law relied, was too vague and indefinite to be secure against practical abuse; and that all attempts to subject licentiousness to merited punishment, would be certain to operate also against the rightful exercise of liberty. Many, therefore, who were before sceptical about the settled designs of the federal party to subvert or undermine the constitution, now credited the imputation, on the faith of what appeared to them so plain an infraction of that instrument. This belief had a great influence in counteracting the feeling of resentment which was inspired by the overbearing insolence of the government of France, and the dishonourable proposals made by its public functionaries; which feeling was naturally more or less extended to their friends and apologists in America.

The motives which dictated the policy of enacting these laws, to which violent opposition must necessarily have been anticipated, has never been satisfactorily explained. But assuredly at the present day, assisted as our judgments are by the light of subsequent events, no measure would seem to be more unwise. It must have been foreseen that the execution of the laws would have been every where attended with difficulty, and supposing that difficulty overcome, more was likely to be lost by the odium they would excite, by the bitter opposition they would engender, and by the closer union they would produce among the discontented, than could possibly be gained by

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