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venture to resort to. The federal party, conscious of not having the approbation of the people, and probably of not deserving it, exhibited less variety of emotion: they justified themselves with the exercise of a constitutional right, and thought it prudent and decent to conceal their secret satisfaction of vexing and embarrassing their adversaries : a part indulging the vain hope that some of these would finally give way, in favour of the second man of their choice, and all knowing that the power was in their hands of deciding the election in favour of Mr. Jefferson whenever they chose to exercise it.*
While the election was thus kept in suspense, the republican party throughout the Union were filled with sentiments of mingled anxiety and indignation at this open attempt of the federal party to defeat their purpose. Mr. Jefferson had long been the acknowledged head and the declared favourite of the republicans, and Colonel Burr was known throughout the nation only as an active and zealous partisan in New York, and supporter of Mr. Jefferson ; on the sole merit of which character he had been selected as vice president. Perhaps there was not an individual in the nation who voted for him with the intention or desire of his being the president. The people therefore from the first were not very tolerant of the utter disregard for their known wishes ; but as soon as it was whispered that the federal majority in Congress meditated to take advantage of the non-election, and of their own failure to correct the mischief, by making a selection of some other individual, it was determined that such a contempt of the voice of the people and flagrant usurpation of power should not prevail, but should be put down by force, if force was necessary. It is believed that the governors both of Pennsylvania and Virginia, who were
* See Appendix (A.)
zealous and firm adherents to the republican party, were determined to march a sufficient force to Washington to depose the usurpers, until the people could exercise their sovereign power by sending delegates to a convention, for the purpose of making amendments to the constitution, suited to the crisis. It was thought by some that the dread of a convention, always pregnant with the danger of mischievous innovation, and threatening some features of the constitution which were most dear to the federalists, more influenced that party to abandon the scheme than the fears of open violence. General Lee, of Virginia, it is said, was earnest in advising this desperate measure; but fortunately better councils prevailed.
On the sixth day of the balloting, the 17th of February, and on the 36th ballot, Mr. Jefferson received ten of the sixteen votes, and thus became president of the United States. The votes which he received were those of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, which had always been in his favour, together with those of Vermont and Maryland, which had previously been divided. The four states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, voted for Colonel Burr, and the members from South Carolina and Delaware put in blank ballots.
During this trying scene, Mr. Jefferson's course was marked by firmness, equanimity, and propriety. He says that overtures were frequently made to him by those who wished him to give some assurance of the course of policy he meant to pursue, or as he supposed by some who put themselves in the way of office, but he invariably declared that he would go into office untrammelled or not at all. *
On the 15th of February he wrote to Mr. Monroe: in speaking of the fruitless balloting, “If they could have been permitted to pass a law for putting the government into the hands of an officer, they certainly would have prevented an election. But we thought it best to declare openly and firmly, one and all, that the day such an act passed, the middle states would arm, and that no such usurpation, even for a single day, should be submitted to. This first shook them, and they were completely alarmed at the resource for which we declared, to wit, a convention, to reorganize the government, and to amend it. The very word convention gives them the horrors ; as in the present democratical spirit of America, they fear they should lose some of the favourite morsels of the constitution. Many attempts have been made to obtain terms from me. I have declared to them unequivocally, that I would not receive the government on capitulation, that I would not go into it with my hands tied.”
* See Appendix (C.).
On the day after the election he wrote to Mr. Madison, and after informing him of the particulars of the ballot, he says that he considered the course pursued by those federalists who put in blanks as “a declaration of war on the part of this band, but that conduct appeared to have brought over the whole body of federalists, who, being alarmed with the danger of a dissolution of the government, had been made most anxiously to wish the very
administration they had opposed, and to view it when obtained as a child of their own.”
We behold Mr. Jefferson now appointed to the highest dignity the laws of his country could bestow, and thus appointed by the free suffrages of the people to direct the destinies of those states which, twenty-five years before, he had contributed to make independent. Without doubt at the time he drafted the Declaration which severed the ties between his country and Great Britain, there were many in that illustrious assembly, the first Congress, and out of it,
who would have been thought more likely to reach this high honour, if the federal constitution could have been anticipated. Yet he had been gradually rising in the estimation of his countrymen, until he outstripped every competitor for their favour, except two; and although one of them held that place in the hearts of his fellow citizens which it was impossible to supplant, the other, after a temporary ascendency, had finally to yield to Mr. Jefferson's happier star.
Party hopes and fears. Foreign relations of the United States. The
President's Inaugural Address. Its character. Letter to John Dickinson. Remorals from Office. Arguments for and against them. Messenger to France with the Treaty. Offers Thomas Paine a conveyance to America. His Justification. Letter to Dr. Priestley—to Mr. Gerry. His Cabinet. Political changes in New England. Abrogation of Forms. Remonstrance from New Haven.The President's Answer. Its effects on Public Opinion. R. Livingston sent Minister to France. Instructions to him. A Squadron sent to Tripoli. Policy on the Appointment of Ministers. Sketch of Parties. Circular to the Heads of Departments. He communicates with both Houses of Congress through the Speakers. The Message-assailed by the Federalists.
MR. Jefferson was now, after an interval of twenty-two years, again to assay the discharge of executive duties, not indeed as before, in a time of war, but on a theatre so much larger and more extended, as to make it an office of far greater difficulty and responsibility. He had however the advantage of longer experience and a wider survey of life both at home and abroad, and he seems to have assumed the reins with a confidence that he would be able to guide them with a safe and steady hand.
Though the election of Mr. Jefferson produced probably equal sensation with both parties, there was not the same degree of manifestation of it by both. The deep mortification and the fears which were undoubtedly felt by the federalists, were exhibited at first in a lowering and silent discontent, whilst their opponents gave vent to their joy in the loudest demonstrations of triumph and exultation. They saw in the clevation of their favourite, an assurance that the