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berations of the state conventions on the constitution, in which it was objected to that instrument, that in certain treaties the concurrence of both houses was not required. Proof was also found in the concession by the general convention, to the small states of an equal representation in the senate, and investing this body at the same time with the treatymaking power. And he refers also to the journals of the convention, from which it appears that a proposition, “that no treaty should be binding on the United States which was not ratified by a law," was rejected.
“As, therefore,” said the president in conclusion," it is perfectly clear to my understanding, that the assent of the house of representatives is not necessary to the validity of a treaty; as the treaty with Great Britain exhibits within itself all the objects requiring legislative provision; and on these the papers can throw no light; and as it is essential to the due administration of the government, that the boundaries fixed by the constitution between the different departments should be preserved; a just regard to the constitution, and to the duty of my office, under all the circumstances of this case, forbid a compliance with your request."
On the 6th of April, this message was referred to a committee of the whole, and two resolutions were moved by Mr. Blount, of North Carolina, the first of which disclaimed the right of the house to interfere in inaking treaties, but asserted the right to carry into effect, or not, any treaty stipulations on subjects committed by the constitution to congress; the second affirmed that the house was not bound to give any reasons for a call upon the executive for information. These resolutions were carried, 57 to 35.
On the 13th of April, copies of the treaties with Spain, Algiers, and the north-western Indians, having been previously communicated to the house, Mr. Sedgwick moved, " that provision ought to be made by law for carrying into effect, with good faith, “the treaties concluded with the dey and regency of Algiers, the king of Great Britain, the king of Spain, and certain Indian tribes north-west of the Ohio." The object of the mover in joining all these treaties in one motion, was not attained. The motion was divided, and the question taken upon the treaties separately. Resolutions declaring it expedient to carry into effect the other three treaties having been adopted, that relating to the British treaty was taken up
The debate in committee of the whole commenced on the 15th of April, and continued until the 29th. Speeches were made by more than thirty members. Among the opponents of the treaty whose names are most conspicuous, were Mr. Madison, by whom the debate was opened, and Mr. Gallatin, who had just commenced his public career, as a representative from the insurrection district in western Pennsylvania. He had been previously chosen a senator in congress ; but on its being ascertaided that he had not been nine years a citizen of the United States, he was excluded from his seat in that body. He had taken the lead in the debate on the call for the instructions, and was the most prominent and effective speaker against the treaty.
To do justice to the principal participators in this celebrated debate, would require the transfer, to our pages, of more copious extracts from their speeches, than our prescribed limits will permit. The grounds on which the treaty was opposed and supported, are thus summarily stated by Pitkin:
“ The objections of those opposed to carrying the treaty into effect, were generally, that it wanted reciprocity; that it gave up all claim of compensation for negroes carried away contrary to the treaty of peace, and for the detention of the western posts; that it contravened the French treaty, and sacrificed the interest of an ally to that of Great Britain; that it gave up, in several important instances, the law of nations, particularly in relation to free ships making free goods, cases of blockade, and contraband of war; that it improperly interfered with the legislative powers of congress, especially by prohibiting the sequestration of debts; and that the commercial part gave few if any advantages to the United States.
“On the other hand it was urged, the treaty had been constitutionally made and promulgated; that a regard to public faith and the best interests of the country, under all the circumstances, required that it should be carried into effect, although not in all respects perfectly satisfactory; that it settled disputes between the two governments of a very long standing, of a very interesting nature, and which it was particularly important for the United States to bring to a close; that provision was also made for a settlement of those of a more recent date, not less affecting the sensibility as well as honor of the country, and in which the commercial community had a deep interest; that in no case had the law of nations been given up; that the question as to provisions being contraband, although not settled, was left as before the treaty; that the conventional rights of France were saved by an express clause. And as to the sequestration of private debts, it was said to be contrary to every principle of morality and good faith, and ought never to take place ; that the commercial part would probably be mutually beneficial, was a matter of experiment, and was to continue only two years after the close of the war in Europe: that, in fine, on the part of the United States, the only choice left was treaty or war.” The ability and eloquence displayed on this question, have seldom been
surpassed in that body. It was near the close of the debate, that the celebrated speech of Fisher Ames in favor of the treaty was delivered. As a specimen of eloquence, this speech has been considered by many as almost unrivaled. Immediately after it was concluded, numerous calls were made for the question ; but the opposition members, unwilling to have the vote taken under the immediate influence of the speech, postponed the question until the next day, (April 29,) when it was carried, in committee of the whole, by the casting vote of the chairman, (Muhlenburg,) who, though belonging to the opposition, did not wish to take the responsibility of deciding the question, as the resolution would still be subject to amendment in the house. In the house, after an ineffectual attempt so to amend the resolution, as to declare the treaty “highly objectionable,” it was carried, 51 to 48. [Appendix, Note B.]
Never, perhaps, have greater efforts been made to sustain or defeat a measure than in the present instance. Public meetings were held in all quarters of the union; and petitions from all classes of the people were poured in upon the house to back up the speeches of their representatives. The prospect of a defeat of the treaty had alarmed the merchants. Indeed its effects upon commerce were already felt. And the petitions from this influential class of men, in all the great commercial cities, had no slight share in producing the final result.
This was the last measure of much importance that engaged the attention of congress at the present session, which was terminated on the first of June.
Thomas Pinckney, minister at London, having previously requested a recall, was succeeded by Rufus King, who was appointed the 20th of May, 1796.
The French government having been officially informed that the president had ratified the treaty with Great Britain, the minister of foreign affairs, in February, 1796, informed Mr. Monroe that the directory, (the executive power under the new constitution, consisting of five persons) considered the alliance between the United States and France terminated by Jay's treaty; that Adet was to be recalled, and a special envoy was to be sent to make the announcement to the American government. A few days afterward, Mr. Monroe was presented with a list of the complaints preferred by the French government against the United States.
The most prominent subject of complaint against the United States was, that in their treaty with Great Britain, they had abandoned the principle, that free ships should make free goods, and that naval stores and provisions were made contraband. By the treaties of the United States with France and Great Britain, French property in American vessels was liable to seizure by British cruisers, while British goods were
secure in American vessels. This, however, was no just ground of complaint. Great Britain had only reserved a right to which she was entitled by the law of nations; whereas, France, supposing it to be more for her interest, had preferred a different principle, which unforeseen events had rendered disadvantageous.
The French government was reminded of the decree of the convention issued in May, 1793, in direct violation of this very stipulation of the treaty. Under this decree, about fifty American vessels had been captured and deprived of their cargoes, which were yet unpaid for. Nearly twice that number had been detained at Bourdeux.
De la Croix had intimated to Mr. Monroe, in February, that the directory had determined on some retaliatory measures. Encouraged to believe that the house of representatives would defeat the treaty by withholding the means of carrying it into effect, the contemplated measures were for the time delayed. News of the decision of the house of representatives reached Paris in June; and on the 2d of July, the directory issued a decree, that “all neutral or allied powers shall, without delay, be notified, that the flag of the French republic will treat neutral vessels, either as to confiscation, as to searches, or capture, in the same manner as they shall suffer the English to treat them.”
It is supposed to have been the purpose of France, with the aid of Spain and Holland, to defeat the operation of the treaty. In August, 1796, France and Spain entered into a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, by which they guarantied to each other all their possessions, and agreed to make common cause to ensure “safety to the neutral flag;" in other words, to compel the United States to protect French and Spanish property in American vessels, in contravention of the treaty stipulation with Great Britain. Accordingly, Spain also, instigated probably by France, complained to the American government of the unequal footing upon which she had been placed by the British treaty, and made this a pretext for not delivering up the posts on the Mississippi and running the southern boundary line.
Holland also, then dependent on France, remonstrated against the United States permitting the property of her citizens to be taken from American vessels. Said the minister of foreign affairs to John Quincy Adams, then minister in that country: “When circumstances oblige our commerce to confide its interests to the neutral flag of American vessels, it has a right to insist that that flag be protected with energy, and that it be not insulted at the expense of a friendly and allied nation.” And he intimated that the United States ought to make common cause with the French republic. Mr. Adams, writing to the American government, said he had received intimations of a secret purpose of the French
government to defeat, if possible, the treaty lately concluded between the United States and Great Britain.
With the view to this object, probably, was the attempt afterward made to separate the people of the west from the union, and to induce them to join with Spain in forming a new empire. The western people having, since the first attempt at separation, obtained the free navigation of the Mississippi, this new project met with little favor.
The president was not fully satisfied with the conduct of Mr. Monroe at the French court. The principal ground of dissatisfaction was the want of promptitude in making to that government the explanations furnished him by the president in justification of the treaty with Great Britain. It was suspected that the delay had been occasioned by his reluctance to justify a measure which he disapproved. The president at first determined to associate with Mr. Monroe a minister extraordinary, in order to insure a more efficient representation of the views of the administration. But perceiving, upon reflection, that the constitution authorized him only to fill vacancies during the recess of the senate, and not to appoint additional officers, he concluded to recall Mr. Monroe; and on the 9th of September, 1796, appointed in his place Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, of South Carolina, brother of Thomas Pinckney, late minister to Great Britain.
WASHINGTON DECLINES ANOTHER REELECTION.-HIS LAST ANNUAL MES
SAGE.-MR. PINCKNEY EXPELLED FROM FRANCE.-ELECTION OF ADAMS
As a fow months only were to intervene before a new election of chief magistrate was to be made, the public attention had already begun to be directed to the selection of candidates for that office. It was generally supposed to be the determination of the president to decline being again a candidate. Notwithstanding the unscrupulous efforts, not only to render his administration odious, but to shake the public confidence in Washington himself, he still retained the affections of the great mass of the people. His retirement at the present juncture would, it was feared, expose the national policy just established to great hazard. Of his reëlection, should he be a candidate, there was no reasonable doubt.