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But how awfully might it be increased, were the violence, which is now suspended by a universal submission to your pretensions, let loose by your resignation. Permit me, then, in the fervor of a dutiful and affectionate attachment to you, to beseech you to penetrate the consequences of a dereliction of the reins. The constitution would never have been adopted but from a knowledge that you had once sanctioned it, and an expectation that you would execute it. It is in a state of probation. The most inauspicious struggles are past, but the public deliberations need stability. You alone can give them stability. You suffered yourself to yield when the voice of your country summoned you to the administration. Should a civil war arise, you cannot stay at home. And how much easier will it be to disperse the factions, which are rushing to this catastrophe, than to subdue them after they shall appear in arms ? It is the fixed opinion of the world, that you surrender nothing incomplete.” *
Not the cabinet, merely, divided as it was in its political opinions, but all parties, however discordant in other points, concurred in a desire that Washington should continue in office—so truly was he regarded as the choice of the nation.
But though the cabinet was united in feeling on this one subject, in other respects its dissensions were increasing in virulence. Hamilton, aggrieved by the attacks made in Freneau's paper upon his funding and banking system, his duty on home
made spirits, and other points of his financial policy, and upon himself, by holding him up as a monarchist at heart, and con
* Washington's Writings, x. 514.
HAMILTON ATTACKS JEFFERSON.
sidering these attacks as originating in the hostility of Freneau's patron, Mr. Jefferson, addressed a note signed T. L., to the editor of the Gazette of the United States, in which he observed that the editor of the National Gazette received a salary from government, adding the significant quere—whether this salary was paid him for translations or for publications, the design of which was to vilify those to whom the voice of the people had committed the administration of our public affairs, to oppose the measures of government, and, by false insinuations, to disturb the public peace? “In common life it is thought ungrateful for a man to bite the hand that puts bread in his mouth : but, if the man is hired to do it, the case is altered.”
In another article, dated August 4th, Mr. Hamilton, under the signature of “An American,” gave some particulars of the negotiations which ended in the establishment of the National Gazette, devoted to the interests of a certain party, of which Mr. Jefferson was the head. “ An experiment,” said he, “somewhat new in the history of political manœuvres in this country; a newspaper instituted by a public officer, and the editor of it regularly pensioned with the public money in the disposal of that officer.
But, it may be asked—is it possible that Mr. Jefferson, the head of a principal department of the government, can be the patron of a paper, the evident object of which is to decry the government and its measures? If he disapproves of the government itself, and thinks it deserving of his opposition, can he reconcile it to his own personal dignity and the principles of probity, to hold an office under it, and employ the means of official influence
in that opposition ? If he disapproves of the leading measures which have been adopted in the course of his administration, can he reconcile it with the principles of delicacy and propriety, to hold a place in that administration, and at the same time to be instrumental in vilifying measures which have been adopted by majorities of both branches of the legislature, and sanctioned by the chief magistrate of the Union ?"
This attack brought out an affidavit from Mr. Freneau, in which he declared that his coming to Philadelphia was his own voluntary act; that, as an editor of a newspaper, he had never been urged, advised, or influenced by Mr. Jefferson, and that not a single line of his Gazette was ever directly or indirectly written, dictated, or composed for it, by the Secretary of State.
Washington had noticed this growing feud with excessive pain, and at length found it necessary to interfere and attempt a reconciliation between the warring parties. In the course of a letter to Jefferson (Aug. 23d), on the subject of Indian hostilities, and the possibility of their being furnished by foreign agents to check, as far as possible, the rapid increase, extension, and consequence of the United States, “How unfortunate then," observes he, “and how much to be regretted that, while we are encompassed on all sides with armed enemies and insidious friends, internal dissensions should be harrowing and tearing our vitals. The latter, to me, is the most serious, the most alarming and the most afflicting of the two; and without more charity for the opinions and acts of one another in governmental matters, or some more infallible criterion by which the truth of speculative opinions, before they have un1792.] PRESIDENT'S APPEAL TO HIS SECRETARIES. 133
dergone the test of experience, are to be prejudged, than has yet fallen to the lot of fallibility, I believe it will be difficult, if not impracticable, to manage the reins of government, or to keep the parts of it together ; for if, instead of laying our shoulders to the machine after measures are decided on, one pulls this way and another that, before the utility of the thing is fairly tried, it must inevitably be torn asunder ; and, in my opinion, the fairest prospect of happiness and prosperity that ever was presented to man, will be lost perhaps forever.
My earnest wish and my fondest hope, therefore, is, that instead of wounding suspicions and irritating charges, there may be liberal allowances, mutual forbearances and temporizing yieldings on all sides. Under the exercise of these, matters will go on smoothly, and, if possible, more prosperously. Without them, every thing must rub; the wheels of government will clog; our enemies will triumph, and, by throwing their weight into the disaffected scale, may accomplish the ruin of the goodly fabric we have been erecting.
Admonitions to the same purport were addressed by him to lIamilton. “Having premised these things," adds he, “I would fain hope that liberal allowances will be made for the political opinions of each other; and, instead of those wounding suspicions and irritating charges, with which some of our gazettes are so strongly impregnated, and which cannot fail, if persevered in, of pushing matters to extremity, and thereby tearing the machine asunder, that there may be mutual forbearance and temporizing yielding on all sides. Without these I do not see how the reins of government are
to be managed, or how the Union of the States can be much longer preserved." *
“I do not mean to apply this advice to any measures which are passed, or to any particular character. I have given it in the same general terms to other officers of the government. My earnest wish is, that balsam may be poured into all the wounds which have been given, to prevent them from gangrening, and from those fatal consequences, which the community may sustain if it is withheld.” *
Hamilton was prompt and affectionate in his reply, expressing sincere regret at the circumstances which had given rise to the uneasy sensations experienced by Washington. “It is my most anxious wish,” writes he, “ as far as may depend upon me, to smooth the path of your administration, and to render it
prosperous and happy. And, if any prospect shall open of healing or terminating the differences which exist, I shall most cheerfully embrace it; though I consider myself as the deeply injured party. The recommendation of such a spirit is worthy of the moderation and wisdom which dictated it."
He then frankly acknowledged that he had had some instrumentality” in the retaliations which of late had fallen upon certain public characters.
“I considered myself compelled to this conduct," adds he,“ by reasons public as well as personal, of the most cogent nature. I know I have been an object of uniform opposition from Mr. Jefferson, from the moment of his coming to the city of New York to enter upon his present office. I know, from the most authen
* Writings, X., p. 284.