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CHAPTER III.

Letter to Edmund Pendleton. Conciliatory course of the President to

wards France. Discord in his Cabinet. Letter to Kosciusko. Appointment of Ministers to France. Letter to Mr. Madison. Resolutions of Virginia and Kentucky on the Alien and Sedition Laws. Unjust Censure of the late Envoys to France. Question concerning the Common Law of England. Concerted operations of the Republican Party. Meeting of Congress. Death of Washington. Letter to Mr. Munroe. Proceeding of Congress. Letter to Gideon Granger. Aspersions on Mr. Jefferson. Letter to Dr. Rush. Moral influence of Cities considered. Presidential Election. Letter to Burr. The election of President devolves upon Congress. Proceedings in that Body. Public anxiety during the Election. Thomas Jefferson finally elected. His letter to Mr. Munroe.

1798.

On the 29th of January Mr. Jefferson addressed a letter to Edmund Pendleton, the venerable president of the court of appeals, whose recent “ patriarchal address to the people" he highly commends. He regards Gerry's correspondence as exculpating the French government from the turpitude imputed to it, and attributes the whole affair to swindlers. He urges Mr. Pendleton to communicate it to the public in a recapitulation “short, simple, and levelled to every capacity;" remarking, “ Nobody in America can do it so well as yourself.” He forwards the documents that would enable hiin to make the recapitulation. He thinks that “ if the understanding of the people could be rallied to the truth of this subject, by exposing the dupery practised on them, there were so many other things about to bear on them, favourably for the resurrection of their republican spirit, that a reduction of the administration to constitutional principles could not fail to be the effect.” These were “ the alien and sedition laws, the vexations of the Stamp Act, the disgusting particularities of the direct tax, the additional army without an enemy, and recruiting officers lounging at every courthouse, to decoy the labourer from his plough; a navy of fifty ships, five millions to be raised to build it, on the usurious interest of eight per cent. ; the perseverance in war on our part, when the French government shows such an anxious desire to keep at peace with us; taxes of ten millions now paid by four millions of people, and yet a necessity, in a year or two, of raising five millions more for annual expenses."

- He solemnly denies all agency in Logan's voyage to Europe. He merely gave him a certificate of citizenship, as he had given to hundreds of others of both parties.

It appeared to Mr. Jefferson and his party friends, that the ensuing summer was the moment for exertion, for the purpose of profiting by the unpopularity of the alien and sedition laws, and the new taxes, and thus counteracting the influence of the despatches from France. The public sentiment being on the turning point, or “on the creen," as he expresses it, and many circumstances favouring the republican cause, he remarks, to Mr. Madison, “ This summer is the season for systematic energies and sacrifices. The engine is the press. Every man must lay his purse and his pen under contribution. As to the former, it is possible I may be obliged to assume something for you. As to the latter, let me pray and beseech you to set apart a certain portion of every day to write what may be proper for the public.”

About a fortnight after the preceding letter, he renewed his application to the venerable Judge Pendleton, then verging towards eighty, to take up his pen. He says, “The violations of the Constitution, propensities to war, to expense, and to a particular foreign connexion, which we have lately seen, are becoming evident to the people, and are dispelling that mist which XYZ had spread before their eyes." He gives a flattering account of the political changes which the alien and sedition laws were effecting in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey; adverts to the danger in Pennsylvania of insurrection, and judiciously remarks that nothing could be so fatal to the republican interests. “Anything like force would check the progress of the public opinion, and rally them round the government.”..... " If we can keep quiet, therefore, the tide now turning will take a speedy and proper direction.” This wholesome advice was recollected the following year by his friends, when strongly tempted to disregard it by the popular odium attending the execution of the sedition law.

He then enters into some details to prove that France was desirous of a reconciliation, and that the administration endeavoured to provoke her to hostilities. He admits that the French have behaved atrociously towards foreign nations, and to us particularly, and adds, that “ their enemies set the first example of violating neutral rights, and continue it to this day. Yet not a word of these things is said officially to the legislature.”

Indeed it was evident, not merely from the liberation of American prisoners at Guadaloupe, but the whole course of the French government, that after the first expression of ill-humour towards this country, when they discovered the resentment their treatment of our envoys had excited, and that they had added to the strength of the friends of England, and lessened that of their own, they were sincerely disposed to arrest the progress of the mischief, and to effect a reconciliation with the United States. But whether they would have felt the same disposition if their conduct had been less warmly or generally resented, may be very fairly questioned. Actuated by these pacific views, they made overtures which the President did not think it prudent or proper to decline, and which eventually had great influence on the feelings of both parties. The President's message to the Senate on this subject is thus mentioned by Mr. Jefferson in a letter to Mr. Madison, of the 19th of February:

“ But the event of events was announced to the Senate yesterday. It is this :-It seems that some time after Gerry's departure, overtures must have been made by Pi. chon, French chargé d'affaires at the Hague, to Vans Murray.* They were so soon matured, that on the 28th of September, 1798, Talleyrand writes to Pichon, approving what had been done, and particularly of his having assured Murray that whatever plenipotentiary the government of the United States should send to France, would be received with the respect due to the representative of a free, independent and powerful nation ; declaring that the dispositions of the French government have always conformed to the President's instructions to his envoys at Paris, and desiring him to communicate these expressions to Murray, to be conveyed to his government. This letter of Talleyrand's may have been received by Pichon on the 1st of October, and, of course, nearly five months have been suffered to elapse before it is communicated.”

On that day the President nominated Mr. Murray minister to France, and at the same time stated that he would be instructed not to go to France without satisfactory assurances from the French government that he should be received with proper respect, and that a minister of equal rank would be appointed to negotiate with him.

It appeared that, in taking this step, the ruling party were divided, and that it was disapproved by a majority of the cabinet, and by the great body of the federalists in both

* William Vans Murray of Maryland, then American minister to Holland,

houses. Some had such a hatred and dread of French principles in government and morals, that they would rather encounter the evils of war with France, than risk a closer connexion : but many also apprehended that, by a settlement of our differences with that country, they must lose much of the advantage over their adversaries which they then possessed: that the military ardour which had been aroused would subside; and the sense of common danger, and the feelings of national pride and resentment would no longer afford their powerful support to the government; that when these counteractions of the alien and sedition laws and the new taxes should be removed, the inherent unpopularity of these acts would bring the administration into discredit with the people, and give their rivals the ascendency; for the angry passions of party zealots, deprived of all other objects, would concentre on the two obnoxious laws and other measures of the federalists, against which they already had evidence of a strong popular leaning.

This last view did not escape the sagacity of Mr. Jefferson. After speaking of the dismay and confusion which this unexpected communication occasioned among the federalists, he adds, “ It silences all arguments against the sincerity of France, and renders desperate every further effort towards war."

A letter written a few days afterwards by Mr. Jefferson to Kosciusko, though it speaks of the issue of war or peace as uncertain, shows that the political principles of either party would prevail, according to the decision of that question. “What course," he remarks, " the government will pursue,

, I know not. But if we are left in peace, I have no doubt the wonderful turn in the public opinion now manifestly taking place, and rapidly increasing, will, in the course of this summer, become so universal and so weighty, that friendship abroad and freedom at home will be firmly es

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