« PrejšnjaNaprej »
RECALL OF GENET AGREED UPON.
of Europe ? His acquittal exposed Washington to the obloquy of having attempted a measure which the laws would not justify. It showed him, moreover, the futility of attempts at punishment for infractions of the rules proclaimed for the preservation of neutrality ; while the clamorous rejoicing by which the acquittal of Henfield had been celebrated, evinced the popular disposition to thwart that line of policy which he considered most calculated to promote the public good. Nothing, however, could induce him to swerve from that policy. “I have a con olation within,” said he, “that no earthly effort can deprive me of, and that is, that neither ambitious nor interested motives have influenced my conduct. The arrows of malevolence, therefore, however barbed and well pointed, can never reach the most vulnerable part of me; though, whilst I am set up as a mark, they will be continually aimed.” *
Hitherto Washington had exercised great forbearance toward the French minister, notwithstanding the little respect shown by the latter to the rights of the United States ; but the official communications of Genet were becoming too offensive and insulting to be longer tolerated. Meetings of the heads of departments and the Attorney General were held at the President's on the 1st and 2d of August, in which the whole of the official correspondence and conduct of Genet was passed in review; and it was agreed that his recall should be desired. Jefferson recommended that the desire should be expressed with great delicacy; the others were for peremptory terms. Knox was for sending him off at once, but this proposition was generally scouted. In the end it was agreed that a letter should be written to Gouverneur Morris, giving a statement of the case, with accompanying documents, that he might lay the whole before the executive council of France, and explain the reason for desiring the recall of Mr. Genet.
* Letter to Gov. Lee. Sparks, x. 359.
It was proposed that a publication of the whole correspondence, and a statement of the proceedings, should be made by way of appeal to the people. This produced animated debates. Hamilton spoke with great warmth in favor of an appeal. Jefferson opposed it.
Genet,” said he, “will appeal also; it will become a contest between the President and Genet. Anonymous writers will take it up. There will be the same difference of opinion in public as in our cabinet—there will be the same difference in Congress, for it must be laid before them. It would work, therefore, very unpleasantly at home. How would it work abroad?”
Washington, already weary and impatient, under the incessant dissensions of his cabinet, was stung by the suggestion that he might be held up as in conflict with Genet, and subjected, as he had been, to the ribaldry of the press. At this unlucky moment Knox blundered forth with a specimen of the scandalous libels already in circulation ; a pasquinade lately printed, called The Funeral of George Washington, wherein the President was represented as placed upon a guillotine, a horrible parody on the late decapitation of the French king. The President, writes Jefferson, now burst forth into one of those transports of passion beyond his control ; inveighed against the personal abuse which had been bestowed upon him, and defied any man on earth to produce a single act of his since he
THE PRESIDENT'S OUTBREAK.
had been in the government, that had not been done on the purest motives.
“He had never repented but once the having slipped the moment of resigning his office, and that was every moment since.” In the agony of his heart he declared that he had rather be in his grave than in his present situation; that he had rather be on his farm than to be made emperor of the world--and yet, said he, indignantly, they are charging me with wanting to be a king !
All were silent during this burst of feeling--a pause ensued—it was difficult to resume the question. Washington, however, who had recovered his equanimity, put an end to the difficulty. There was no necessity, he said, for deciding the matter at present; the propositions agreed to, respecting the letter to Mr. Morris, might be put into a train of execution, and, perhaps, events would show whether the appeal would be ne
cessary or not. *
* Jefferson's Works, ix. 164.
CHAPTER X XII.
THREATENED DISSOLUTION OF THE CABINET-AOTION BETWEEN THE AM
BUSCADE AND BOSTON-TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF THE FORMER
NEW YORK-A FRENCH FLEET ARRIVES SAME DAY-EXCITEMENT OF
THE PEOPLE-GENET ARRIVES IN THE MIDST OF IT---HIS ENTHUSIAS
TIO RECEPTIONIS INFORMED BY JEFFERSON OF THE MEASURES FOR
HIS RECALL HIS RAGE AND REPLY-DECLINE OF HIS POPULARITY.
WASHINGTON had hitherto been annoyed and perplexed by having to manage a divided cabinet; he was now threatened with that cabinet's dissolution. Mr. Hamilton had informed him by letter, that private as well as public reasons had determined him to retire from office toward the close of the next session ; probably with a view to give Congress an opportunity to examine into his conduct. Now came a letter from Mr. Jefferson, dated July 31st, in which he recalled the circumstances which had induced him to postpone for a while his original intention of retiring from office at the close of the first four years of the republic. These circumstances, he observed, had now ceased to such a degree as to leave him free to think again of a day on which to withdraw ; “at the close, therefore, of the ensuing month of September, I shall beg leave to retire to scenes of greater tranquillity, from those for which I am every day more and more convinced that
JEFFERSON'S INTENDED WITHDRAWAL.
neither my talents, tone of mind, nor time of life fit
Washington was both grieved and embarrassed by this notification. Full of concern, he called
Jefferson at his country residence near Philadelphia ; pictured his deep distress at finding himself, in the present perplexing juncture of affairs, about to be deserted by those of his cabinet on whose counsel he had counted, and whose places he knew not where to find persons competent to supply; and, in his chagrin, again expressed his repentance that he himself had not resigned as he had once meditated.
The public mind, he went on to observe, was in an alarming state of ferment; political combinations of various kinds were forming ; where all this would end he knew not. A new Congress was to assemble, more numerous than the last, perhaps of a different spirit ; the first expressions of its sentiments would be important, and it would relieve him considerably if Jefferson would remain in office, if it were only until the end of the session,
Jefferson, in reply, pleaded an excessive repugnance to public life; and, what seems to have influenced him more sensibly, the actual uneasiness of his position. He was obliged, he said, to move in exactly the circle which he knew to bear him peculiar hatred ; "the wealthy aristocrats, the merchants connected closely with England; the newly-created paper fortunes.” Thus surrounded, his words were caught, multiplied, misconstrued, and even fabricated, and spread abroad to his injury.
Mr. Jefferson pleaded, moreover, that the opposition