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CLAIMS AGAINST FRANCE SETTLED.

671

and won the esteem of Washington ; had been a member CHAP.

XLVIIL of the House of Representatives, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and Minister to France. President John 1886. Adams nominated him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, over which for thirty-five years he presided “ with native dignity and unpretending grace.” His solidity of judgment, his reasoning powers, his acute and penetrating mind, were remarkable, and none the less striking were the purity of his Christian life and his simplicity of manner.

The maxim of foreign policy acted upon by the President was “to ask nothing but what was right, and to submit to nothing that was wrong." American merchants had claims, amounting to five millions of dollars, against the French government. They had remained unsettled for twenty years. These indemnities were for “unlawful seizures, captures, and destruction of vessels and cargoes,” during the wars of Napoleon. The government of Louis Philippe acknowledged their justice, and by treaty engaged to pay them. But the Chamber of Deputies, at different times during three years, refused to appropriate the money. The President sent a message to Congress, recommending reprisals upon French property if the treaty was not complied with. The French Chambers took offence at the tone of the message, and although Congress had not acted upon its suggestions, they refused to pay the money unless the obnoxious proposal was withdrawn. This brought another message, in which the President reviewed the difficulties existing between the governments. Said he : “ Come what may, the explanation which France demands can never be accorded ; and no armament (alluding to a French fleet then on our coast), however powerful and imposing, will, I trust, deter us from discharging the high duties which we owe to our constituents, to our national character, and to the world.” He suggested to Congress to prohibit the entrance of

CHAP: French imports into our ports, and the interdiction of XLVIII.

all commercial intercourse. 1836. At this time Great Britain offered her mediation. The

offer was accepted by both parties. In the mean time the Chamber of Deputies appropriated the money to satisfy the claims and fulfil the treaty.

Equally successful was the President in arranging other difficulties of long standing ; claims for similar seizures and spoliations against Spain, Naples and Denmark. Also treaties of commerce and friendship were negotiated with Russia, and the Ottoman Empire—the first American treaty with the latter power.

Two States, Arkansas and Michigan, were added to the Union ; the original thirteen had now doubled.

After a spirited contest, Martin Van Buren, of New Nov. York, was elected President by the people, and Richard

M. Johnson, of Kentucky, Vice-President, not by the electoral vote, but by the Senate.

General Jackson's administration will ever be memorable for its measures ; and none the less for the custom then introduced, and unfortunately, with rare exceptions, still continued, of removing persons from office for political purposes, and filling their places with partisans.

The nation was greatly agitated by the conflicts growing out of the diversity of opinion on the policy of the President and his adherents. But energy and determination enabled him to carry his points in defiance of opposition and established usages.

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