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CHAP. IX. this breach of confidence must be ascribed to 1796. some other person.
In answer to this letter the president said....
“If I had entertained any suspicion before, that Washington the queries which have been published in Bache's
paper proceeded from you, the assurances you have given of the contrary would have removed them :...but the truth is, I harboured none. I am at no loss to conjecture from what source they flowed, through what channel they were conveyed, nor for what purpose they and similar publications appear.
“As you have mentioned* the subject yourself, it would not be frank, candid, or friendly to conceal, that your conduct has been represented as derogating from that opinion I conceived you entertained of me; that to your particular friends and connexions you have described, and they have denounced me, as a person under a dangerous influence, and that, if I would listen more to some other opinions, all would be well. My answer invariably has been, that I had never discovered any thing in the conduct of Mr. Jefferson to raise suspicions in my mind of his sincerity ; that if he would retrace my public conduct while he was in the administration, abundant proofs would occur to him, that truth and right decisions were the sole objects of my pur. suit; that there were as many instances within his own knowledge of my having decided against as in favour of the person evidently alluded to; and
* In the same letter Mr. Jefferson had stated his total abstraction from party questions.
moreover, that I was no believer in the infallibility CHAP. IX. of the politics or measures of any man living. In 1796. short, that I was no party man myself, and that the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them.
“To this I may add, and very truly, that until the last year or two, I had no conception that parties would, or even could go the lengths I have been witness to; nor did I believe, until lately, that it was within the bounds of probability... hardly within those of possibility...that while I was using my utmost exertions to establish a national character of our own, independent as far as our obligations and justice would permit, of every nation of the earth; and wished by steering a steady course to preserve this country from the horrors of a desolating war, I should be accused of being the enemy of one nation and subject to the influence of another; and to prove it, that every act of my administration would be tortured, and the grossest and most insidious misrepresentations of them be made, by giving one side only of a subject, and that too in such exaggerated and indecent terms as could scarcely be applied to a Nero...to a notorious defaulter...or even to a common pick-pocket.
“But enough of this....I have already gone further in the expression of my feelings than I intended."
Of the numerous misrepresentations and fabri. cations which, with unwearied industry, were pressed upon the public in order to withdraw the confidence of the nation from its chief, no one
CHAP. IX. marked more strongly the depravity of that prin. 1796. ciple which justifies the means by the end, than
the republication of certain forged letters, purporting to have been written by general Washington in the year 1776.
These letters had been originally published in the year 1777, and in them were interspersed, with domestic occurrences which might give them the semblance of verity, certain political sentiments favourable to Britain in the then exist. ing contest.
But the original fabricator of these papers missed his aim. It was necessary to assign the manner in which the possession of them was acquired ; and in executing this part of his task, circumstances were stated so notoriously untrue, that, at the time, the meditated imposition deceived no person.
In the indefatigable research for testimony which might countenance the charge that the executive was unfriendly to France and under the influence of Britain, these letters were drawn from the oblivion into which they had sunk, it had been supposed forever, and were republished as genuine. The silence with which the president treated this as well as every other calumny, was construed into an acknowledgment of its truth; and the malignant commentators on this spurious text, would not admit the possibility of its being apocryphal.
Those who laboured incessantly to establish the favourite position that the executive was under other than French influence, reviewed every act of the administration connected with its foreign relations, and with extreme bitterness continued CHAP. IX, to censure every part of the system. Not only 1796. the treaty with Great Britain, but all those mea. sures which had been enjoined by the duties of neutrality, were reprobated as justly offensive to France; and no opinion which had been advanced by Mr. Genet, in his construction of the treaties between the two nations, was too extravagant to be advocated. Not with more zeal can the ardent patriot maintain the choicest rights of his country, than was manifested in supporting all the claims of the French republic upon the United States. These discussions were not confined to the public prints. In almost every assemblage of individuals, whether for social or other purposes, this favourite theme excluded all others; and the pretensions of France were advocated and controverted with equal earnestness. Mutually exasperated by unceasing altercations, the opposite parties cherished reciprocal suspicions against each other, and each charged its adversary with being under a foreign influence. * Those who favoured the measures adopted by America were accused as the enemies of liberty, the enemies of France, and the tools of Britain. In turn they charged their opponents with disseminating principles subversive of all order in society; and with supporting a foreign government against their own.
Whatever might be the real opinion of the French government on the validity of its charges against the United States, those charges were too
See Note, No. XIX, at the end of the volume
CHAP. IX. vehemently urged, and too powerfully espoused in 1796. America, to be abandoned at Paris. If at any time
they were in part relinquished, they were soon resumed.
For a time, Mr. Fauchet had forbore to press the points on which his predecessor, had insisted; but his complaints of particular cases which grew out of the war, and out of the rules which had been established by the executive with regard to ships of war, cruisers, and their prizes, were unremitting. At first they were urged in language properly respectful ; but this soon yielded to the style of reproach; and in his correspondence with the secretary of state, towards its close, he adopted the sentiments, without absolutely discarding the manner of Mr. Genet.
Mr. Adet, the successor of Mr. Fauchet, arrived at Philadelphia while the senate was deliberating on the treaty of amity with Great Britain.
The solicitude of the president to remove from the mind of this gentleman, any prejudices which he might have imbibed on this subject, and the circumstances of laying that instrument before him, have been already noticed.
In the observations he made on it to the secre. tary of state, he complained particularly of the abandonment of the principle that free ships should make free goods; and urged the injustice, while French cruisers were restrained by treaty from taking English goods out of American bottoms, that English cruisers should be liberated from the same restraint. No demonstration could be more complete than was the fallacy of this com