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THE

LIFE OF THOMAS JEFFERSON.

CHAPTER I.

Difficulties of the New Administration. Mr. Jefferson's friendly ad

vances towards Mr. Adams. The recommendations of his new office. His arrival in Philadelphia. Interview with the President. Letter to Mr. Madison on Public Affairs. State of Partiestheir foreign predilections. Mr. Adams's Cabinet. Letter to Colonel Burr. The Government sends envoys to France. Mr. Jefferson consults Mr. Madison concerning the letter to Mazzei. Appointed President of the American Philosophical Society.

1797.

We have seen that Mr. Jefferson, in noticing the recent election to his friends, always spoke of its result as a matter of congratulation rather than of regret, and that the chief reason which he assigned for his satisfaction was the very embarrassed state of our foreign affairs. Nor did he overrate their difficulties. From the moment of Mr. Jay's mission to England, symptoms of jealousy and mistrust were manifested by the French government, that the treaty was dictated by a wish to form a closer connexion with England, and that its consequences would be injurious to the interests of France and her influence

VOL. II.-2

in the United States. When that treaty moreover was concluded, and it was seen that the fears previously entertained were confirmed, and that a large part-apparently a majority of the nation—disapproved it, the French government no longer concealed its dissatisfaction.

Whilst one of the grounds of complaint against the administration was, their want of attachment to France, and their leaning towards England, it was natural for the French government to adopt the same feelings, if from no other motive, for the sake of preserving and increasing their influence in the United States. And although Mr. Genet’s intemperate course was not justified, yet the spirit which dictated it was transmitted to his successors, and they endeavoured, by more discreet means, to keep alive all that popular favour towards France and her cause, and hatred of her great rival and enemy, which the people of this country had recently evinced. There had therefore never been a cessation of remonstrance and complaint against some of the measures of the administration; nor any occasion lost of paying court to the people; nor of inflaming their prejudice against Great Britain. It was no doubt intended as a stroke of policy to counteract this discontent, that Mr. Monroe, who was known to be warmly attached to the French revolution, the confidential friend of Jefferson, and one of the opponents of the administration, had received his appointment.

The measure had its intended effect; but the benefit was merely temporary. The directors reiterated the complaints which their friends here had made against the British treaty, and pressed them with so much earnestness that we see not how the United States could take any course which must not either openly violate the treaty, or exasperate the French government, and alienate their friends in the United States.

The blame of this state of things was thrown by many on the unwise councils of the government, which were attributed to its predilection for Great Britain over France. But they seem rather due to the conflict between those nations; for when we consider the bitter animosity which was felt by both nations, it was scarcely practicable how the government could have steer

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ed clear of a war with either England or France, and the question only to be considered was, which would have most affected the honour, and most impeded the prosperity of the country. Had the government not firmly resisted and diligently counteracted the popular sentiment towards France, or had not many of the causes of collision been removed by the British treaty, a war with England would have been inevitable; but after that treaty, no course of mere neutrality would probably have restored the confidence and friendly feelings of France. In short, encouraged by the known partiality of the American people, nothing would have satisfied France apparently, but war against Great Britain: and her unfriendly sentiments were yet further excited by the recall of Mr. Monroe, whose only offence was supposed to be his too kind feelings towards France.

Mr. Jefferson showed his aversion to ceremony and parade, by requesting one of the senators from Virginia to dispense with the practice, which had been observed on a former occasion, of sending a special deputation to notify his election. He thinks that it would always be better to make the communication by the post, as the least troublesome, the quickest, and the surest.

He notices on the same day to Mr. Madison, the doubts which had been expressed as to the validity of the Vermont election, and expresses a wish that Mr. Madison would declare that on every occasion, foreseen or not foreseen by him, he was in favour of the choice of the people, substantially expressed, and anxious to prevent “the phenomenon of a pseudo-president at so early a day." In a subsequent letter to the same gentleman he reciprocates the feelings of friendship which he learns that Mr. Adams has expressed towards him; but adds, “as to participating in the administration, if by that he meant the Executive Cabinet, both duty and inclination will shut the door to me. I cannot bave a wish to see the scenes of 1793 revived as to myself, and to descend daily into the arena like a gladiator, to suffer martyrdom in every conflict.”

Of our foreign policy he thus speaks. “I sincerely deplore the situation of our affairs with France. War with them, and consequent alliance with Great Britain, will completely com

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