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cal and alarming situation of affairs, the same description of persons, the same individuals even, who so perseveringly attempted to bring us into a war against England, according to the views of France, who have so uniformly and with so much zeal supported all the pretensions of France, now come forward and make a direct attack on the executive, the tendency of which necessarily is to divide it from this House, when there is the utmost need of union, and withdraw from it the confidence of the people, when that confidence is more then ever essential. What is this but a continuation of the same system ? And are we to be blamed for seeing, in this attempt, a new effort to throw this country into the arms of France, by rendering the government unable to resist her; by forcing it, from weakness, to submit to her mandates; to break, in obedience to them, its treaty with England, and substitute, in its place, an alliance, offensive and defensive, with her ?
If this be not the object of gentlemen; if it be not their intention thus to serve their country, by reducing it to the situation of Holland, how are we to reconcile their present with their former conduct; their eagerness for hostile measures formerly, with their tame, submissive spirit now; their zealous opposition to every thing like negociation formerly, with their equally zealous opposition to every thing like resistance now? If this be not their system, then all that I can say about their present measures, contrasted with those pursued by them on a former occasion, about their former eagerness for alliance with one foreign nation, and war with another, contrasted with their present declamations against all sorts of foreign connexions or intercourse, is to exclaim, in the eloquent language of the gentleman from Pennsylvania, that those measures form the last leaf of that book, wherein are written the inconsistencies of party.
Whether this system of war and alliance, this system of fraternity with France, such as the Dutch now enjoy, and hostility under her orders against all her enemies; this system, so steadily pursued, but so often defeated, shall now at length begin to triumph, I consider as the question now to be decided. It is now to be decided, whether an important step shall be taken, towards compelling our government, through debility, to submit implicitly to France, towards laying this country, bound hand and foot, at the feet of that haughty, domineering nation. To take this step, to commence the triumph of the fraternal system, I take to be the object, as I know it to be the tendency of the inroad on the executive power attempted by this amendment. Hence it is that I oppose it with the warmest zeal, and with all my might; and if my opposition shall contribute, in the smallest degree, to its defeat, I shall neither regret the time I have occupied, nor apologize for the trouble I have given to the committee.
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
DELIVERED MARCH 4, 1801.
FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS, CALLED upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens which is here assembled, to express my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look towards me, to declare a sincere consciousness, that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and awful presentiments, which the greatness of the charge, and the weakness of my powers, so justly inspire. A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye; when I contemplate these transcendent objects, and see the honor, the happiness and the hopes of this beloved country committed to the issue and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, and humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking. Utterly indeed, should I despair, did not the presence of many, whom I here see, remind me, that, in the other high authorities provided by our constitution, I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue and of zeal, on which to rely under all difficulties. To you, then, gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign functions of legislation, and to those associated with you, I look with encouragement for that guidance and support which may enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we are all embarked, amidst the conflicting elements of a troubled world.
During the contest of opinion through which we have past, the animation of discussions and of exertions, has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think.freely, and to speak and to write what they think ; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the constitution, all will of course arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good. All too will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression. Let us then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind, let us restore to social intercourse, that harmany and affection without which, liberty, and even life itself, are but dreary things. And let us reflect, that having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little, if we countenance a political intolerance, as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient world, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seeking through blood and slaughter his long lost liberty, it was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should be more felt and feared by some, and less by others; and should divide opinions as to measures of safety; but every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have
called by different names brethren of the same princi
We are all republicans: we are all federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough. But would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and visionary fear, that this government, the world's best hope, may, by possibility, want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government on earth. I believe it the only one, where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said, that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he then be trusted with the government of others? Or, have we found angels in the form of kings, to govern him? Let history answer this question.
Let us then, with courage and confidence, pursue our own federal and republican principles; our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high minded to endure the degradations of the others, possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation, entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellowcitizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them, enlightened by a benign religion, professed indeed and practised in various
forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance,