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JEFFERSON IN HIS RETREAT.
has been impossible to prevent you to forego any longer the indulgence of your desire for private life, the event, however anxious I am to avert it, must be submitted to.
“But I cannot suffer you to leave your station without assuring you that the opinion which I had formed of your integrity and talents, and which dictated your original nomination, has been confirmed by the fullest experience, and that both have been eminently displayed in the discharge of your duty."
The place thus made vacant in the cabinet was filled by Mr. Edmund Randolph, whose office of Attorney General was conferred on Mr. William Bradford of Pennsylvania.
No one seemed to throw off the toils of office with more delight than Jefferson ; or to betake himself with more devotion to the simple occupations of rural life. It was his boast, in a letter to a friend written some time after his return to Monticello, that he had seen no newspaper since he had left Philadelphia, and he believed he should never take another newspaper of any sort. "I think it is Montaigne," writes he, “who has said, that ignorance is the softest pillow on which a man can rest his head. I am sure it is true as to every thing political, and shall endeavor to estrange myself to every thing of that character." Yet the very next sentence shows the lurking of the old party feud. “I indulge myself in one political topic only—that is, in declaring to my countrymen the shameless corruption of a portion of the representatives of the first and second Congresses, and their implicit devotion to the treasury. We subjoin his comprehensive character of Washington, the result of long observation and cabinet experience, and written in after years, when there was no temptation to insincere eulogy:
* Letter to E. Randolph. Works, iv. 103.
“His integrity was most pure; his justice the most inflexible I have ever known; no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of the word, a wise, a good, and a great man.
CHAPTER X XIV.
DEBATE ON JEFFERSON'S REPORT ON COMMERCIAL INTERCOURSE-A NA
VAL FORCE PROPOSED FOR THE PROTEOTION OF COMMERCE AGAINST
PIRATIOAL CRUISERS-FURTHER INSTANCES OF THE AUDACITY OF
GENET-HIS RECALL-ARRIVAL OF HIS SUCCESSOR-IRRITATION EX
OITED BY BRITISH CAPTURES OF AMERICAN VESSELS-PREPARATIONS
FOR DEFENCE-EMBARGO-INTENSE EXCITEMENT AT
ATIONS”—PARTISANS OF FRANCE IN THE ASCENDANT-A CHANCE FOR ACCOMMODATING DIFFICULTIES – JEFFERSON'S HOPES OF RECONCILIA
TION-THE WAR ORY
SEND A SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT-JEFFERSON'S
LETTER TO TENCH COXE.
Public affairs were becoming more and more complicated, and events in Europe were full of gloomy portent. “The news of this evening," writes John Adams to his wife, on the 9th of January, "is, that the queen of France is no more. When will savages be satisfied with blood ? No prospect of peace in Europe, therefore none of internal harmony in America. We cannot well be in a more disagreeable situation than we are with all Europe, with all Indians, and with all Barbary rovers. Nearly one-half of the Continent is in constant opposition to the other, and the President's situation, which is highly responsible, is very distressing."
Adams speaks of having had two hours' conversation with Washington alone in his cabinet, but intimates that he could not reveal the purport of it, even by a hint; it had satisfied him, however, of Washington's earnest desire to do right; his close application to discover it, and his deliberate and comprehensive view of our affairs with all the world. “The anti-federalists and the Frenchified zealots,” adds Adams, “have nothing now to do that I can conceive of, but to ruin his character, destroy his peace, and injure his health. He supports all their attacks with firmness, and his health appears to be very good.” *
The report of Mr. Jefferson on commercial intercourse, was soon taken up in the House in a committee of the whole. A series of resolutions based on it, and relating to the privileges and restrictions of the commerce of the United States, were introduced by Mr. Madison, and became the subject of a warm and acrimonious debate. The report upheld the policy of turning the course of trade from England to France, by discriminations in favor of the latter; and the resolutions were to the same purport. The idea was to oppose commercial resistance to commercial injury; to enforce a perfect commercial equality by retaliating impositions, assuming that the commercial system of Great Britain was hostile to the United States—a position strongly denied by some of the debaters.
Though the subject was, or might seem to be, of a purely commercial nature, it was inevitably mixed up with political considerations, according as a favorable inclination to England or France was apprehended. The debate waxed warm as it proceeded, with a strong infusion of bitterness. Fisher Ames stigmatized the
* Life of John Adams, vol. i., p. 461.
A WARM DEBATE.
resolutions as having French stamped upon the very face of them. Whereupon, Colonel Parker of Virginia, wished that there were a stamp on the forehead of every one to designate whether he were for France or England. For himself, he would not be silent and hear that nation abused, to whom America was indebted for her rank as a nation. There was a burst of applause in the gallery ; but the indecorum was rebuked by the galleries being cleared.
The debate, which had commenced on the 13th of January, (1794,) was protracted to the 3d of February, when the question being taken on the first resolution, it was carried by a majority of only five, so nearly were parties divided. The further consideration of the remaining resolutions was postponed to March, when it was resumed, but, in consequence of the new complexion of affairs, was suspended without a decision.
The next legislative movement was also productive of a warm debate, though connected with a subject which appealed to the sympathies of the whole nation Algerine corsairs had captured eleven American merchant vessels, and upwards of one hundred prisoners, and the regency manifested a disposition for further outrages. A bill was introduced into Congress proposing a force of six frigates, to protect the commerce of the United States against the cruisers of this piratical power. The bill met with strenuous opposition. The force would require time to prepare it; and would then be insufficient. It might be laying the foundation of a large permanent navy and a great public debt. It would be cheaper to purchase the friendship of Algiers with money, as was done by other nations of superior