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One part of his speech conveyed an impressive admonition to the House of Representatives: "No pecuniary consideration is more urgent than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt; in none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable.'

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The necessity of augmenting the public revenue in a degree commensurate with the objects suggested, was likewise touched upon.

In concluding his speech, he endeavored to impress upon his hearers the magnitude of their task, the im portant interests confided to them, and the conscientiousness that should reign over their deliberations. "Without an unprejudiced coolness, the welfare of the government may be hazarded; without harmony, as far as consists with freedom of sentiment, its dignity may be lost. But, as the legislative proceedings of the United States will never, I trust, be reproached for the want of temper or of candor, so shall not the public happiness languish from the want of my strenuous and warmest co-operation."

In a message to both Houses, on the 5th of December, concerning foreign relations, Washington spoke feelingly with regard to those with the representative and executive bodies of France: "It is with extreme concern I have to inform you that the proceedings of the person whom they have unfortunately appointed their minister plenipotentiary here, have breathed nothing of the friendly spirit of the nation which sent him; their tendency, on the contrary, has been to involve us in war abroad, and discord and anarchy at home. So far as his acts, or those of his agents, have threatened


our immediate commitment in the war, or flagrant insult to the authority of the laws, their effect has been counteracted by the ordinary cognizance of the laws, and by an exertion of the powers confided to me. Where their danger was not imminent, they have been borne with, from sentiments of regard for his nation; from a sense of their friendship towards us; from a conviction, that they would not suffer us to remain long exposed to the action of a person, who has so little respected our mutual dispositions; and, I will add, from a reliance on the firmness of my fellow-citizens in their principles of peace and order."

John Adams, speaking of this passage of the message, says: "The President has given Genet a bolt of thunder." He questioned, however, whether Washington would be supported in it by the two Houses-" although he stands at present, as high in the admiration and confidence of the people as ever he did, I expect he will find many bitter and desperate enemies arise in consequence of his just judgment against Genet." *

In fact, the choice of speaker showed that there was a majority of ten against the administration, in the House of Representatives; yet it was manifest, from the affectionate answer on the 6th, of the two Houses, to Washington's speech, and the satisfaction expressed at his re-election, that he was not included in the opposition which, from this act, appeared to await his political system. The House did justice to the purity and patriotism of the motives which had prompted him again to obey the voice of his country, when called by it to the presidential chair. "It is to virtues which have com* Letter to Mrs. Adams. Life, vol. i., p. 460.



manded long and universal reverence, and services from which have flowed great and lasting benefits, that the tribute of praise may be paid, without the reproach of flattery; and it is from the same sources that the fairest anticipations may be derived in favor of the public happiness."

Notwithstanding the popular ferment in favor of France, both Houses seem to have approved the course pursued by Washington in regard to that country; and as to his proclamation of neutrality, while the House approved of it in guarded terms, the Senate pronounced it "a measure well timed and wise; manifesting a watchful solicitude for the welfare of the nation, and calculated to promote it."

Early in the session, Mr. Jefferson, in compliance with a requisition which the House of Representatives had made, Feb. 23d, 1791, furnished an able and comprehensive report of the state of trade of the United States with different countries; the nature and extent of exports and imports, and the amount of tonnage of the American shipping: specifying, also, the various restriction and prohibitions by which our commerce was embarrassed, and, in some instances, almost ruined. "Two methods," he said, "presented themselves, by which these impediments might be removed, modified, or counteracted; friendly arrangement or countervailing legislation. Friendly arrangements were preferable with all who would come into them, and we should carry into such arrangements all the liberality and spirit of accommodation which the nature of the case would admit. But," adds he, "should any nation continue its system of prohibitive duties and regulations, it behooves

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us to protect our citizens, their commerce, and navigation, by counter prohibitions, duties, and regulations." To effect this, he suggested a series of legislative measures of a retaliatory kind.*

With this able and elaborate report, Jefferson closed his labors as Secretary of State. His last act was a kind of parting gun to Mr. Genet. This restless functionary had, on the 20th of December, sent to him translations of the instructions given him by the executive council of France; desiring that the President would lay them officially before both Houses of Congress, and proposing to transmit successively, other papers to be laid before them in like manner.

Jefferson, on the 31st of December, informed Genet that he had laid his letter and its accompaniments, before the President. "I have it in charge to observe," adds he, “that your functions as the missionary of a foreign nation here, are confined to the transactions of the affairs of your nation, with the executive of the United States; that the communications which are to pass between the executive and legislative branches, cannot be a subject for your interference, and that the President must be left to judge for himself what matters his duty or the public good may require him to propose to the deliberations of Congress. I have, therefore, the honor of returning you the copies sent for distribution, and of being, with great respect, sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.'


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VOL. V.-13

* See Jefferson's Works, Vol. VII.


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Such was Jefferson's dignified rebuke of the presumptuous meddling of Genet, and indeed his whole course of official proceedings with that minister, notwith

standing his personal intimacy with him and his strong French partialities, is worthy of the highest approbation. Genet, in fact, who had calculated on Jefferson's friendship, charged him openly with having a language official and a language confidential, but it certainly was creditable to him, as a public functionary in a place of high trust, that, in his official transactions, he could rise superior to individual prejudices and partialities, and consult only the dignity and interests of his country.

Washington had been especially sensible of the talents and integrity displayed by Jefferson during the closing year of his secretaryship, and particularly throughout this French perplexity, and had recently made a last attempt, but an unsuccessful one, to persuade him to remain in the cabinet. On the same day with his letter to Genet, Jefferson addressed one to Washington, reminding him of his having postponed his retirement from office until the end of the annual year. "That term being now arrived," writes he, " and my propensities to retirement becoming daily more and more irresistible, I now take the liberty of resigning the office into your hands. Be pleased to accept with it my sincere thanks for all the indulgences which you have been so good as to exercise towards me in the discharge of its duties. Conscious that my need of them has been great, I have still ever found them greater, without any other claim on my part than a firm pursuit of what has appeared to me to be right, and a thorough disdain of all means which were not as open and honorable as their object was pure. I carry into my retirement a lively sense of your goodness, and shall continue gratefully to remember it."

The following was Washington's reply: "Since it

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