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maritime force, or to purchase the protection of those nations. It seems hardly credible at the present day, that such policy could have been urged before an American Congress, without provoking a burst of scorn and indignation; yet it was heard without any emotion of the kind; and, though the bill was eventually passed by both Houses, it was but by a small majority. It received the hearty assent of the President.
In the course of this session, fresh instances had come before the government of the mischievous activity and audacity of Genet; showing that, not content with compromising the neutrality of the United States at sea, he was attempting to endanger it by land. From documents received, it appeared that in November he had sent emissaries to Kentucky, to enrol American citizens in an expedition against New Orleans, and the Spanish possessions; furnishing them with blank commissions for the purpose.* It was an enterprise in which the adventurous people of that State were ready enough to embark, through enthusiasm for the French nation and impatience at the delay of Spain to open the navigation of the Mississippi. Another expedition was to proceed against the Floridas; men for the purpose to be enlisted at the South, to rendezvous in Georgia, and to be aided by a body of Indians and by a French fleet, should one arrive on the coast.
A proclamation from Governor Moultrie checked all such enlistments in South Carolina, but brought forth a letter from Genet to Mr. Jefferson, denying that he had endeavored to raise an armed force in that State for the service of the republic: "At the same time,"
* American State Papers, ii. 36.
adds he, "I am too frank to conceal from you that, authorized by the French nation to deliver brevets to such of your fellow-citizens who feel animated by a desire to serve the fairest of causes, I have accorded them to several brave republicans of South Carolina, whose intention appeared to me to be, in expatriating themselves, to go among the tribes of independent Indians, ancient friends and allies of France, to inflict, if they could, in concert with them, the harm to Spaniards and Englishmen, which the governments of those two nations had the baseness to do for a long time to your fellow-citizens, under the name of these savages, the same as they have done recently under that of the Algerines."
Documents relating to these transactions were communicated to Congress by Washington, early in January. But, though the expedition set on foot in South Carolina had been checked, it was subsequently reported that the one in Kentucky against Louisiana, was still in progress and about to descend the Ohio.
These schemes showed such determined purpose, on the part of Genet, to undermine the peace of the United States, that Washington, without waiting a reply to the demand for his recall, resolved to keep no further terms with that headlong diplomat. The dignity, possibly the safety of the United States, depended upon immediate measures.
FINAL SCHEMES OF GENET.
In a cabinet council it was determined to supersede Genet's diplomatic functions, deprive him of the consequent privileges, and arrest his person; a message to Congress, avowing such determination, was prepared, but at this critical juncture came despatches from Gouverneur Morris, announcing Genet's recall.
The French minister of foreign affairs had, in fact, reprobated the conduct of Genet as unauthorized by his instructions and deserving of punishment, and Mr. Fauchet, secretary of the executive council, was appointed to succeed him. Mr. Fauchet arrived in the United States in February.
About this time vigilance was required to guard against wrongs from an opposite quarter. We have noticed the orders issued by Great Britain to her cruisers in June, 1793, and the resentment thereby excited in the United States. On the 6th of the following month of November, she had given them additional instructions to detain all vessels laden with the produce of any colony belonging to France, or carrying supplies to any such colony, and to bring them, with their cargoes, to British ports, for adjudication in the British courts of admiralty.
Captures of American vessels were taking place in consequence of these orders, and heightening public irritation. They were considered indicative of determined hostility on the part of Great Britain, and they produced measures in Congress preparatory to an apprehended state of war. An embargo was laid, prohibiting all trade from the United States to any foreign place for the space of thirty days, and vigorous preparations for defence were adopted with but little opposition.
On the 27th of March, resolutions were moved that all debts due to British subjects be sequestered and paid into the treasury, as a fund to indemnify citizens of the United States for depredations sustained from British cruisers, and that all intercourse with Great Britain be interdicted until she had made compensation for these
injuries, and until she should make surrender of the Western posts.
The popular excitement was intense. Meetings were held on the subject of British spoliations. 'Peace or war' was the absorbing question. The partisans
It was scouted
of France were now in the ascendant. as pusillanimous any longer to hold terms with England. "No doubt," said they, "she despises the proclamation of neutrality, as an evidence of timidity; every motive of self-respect calls on the people of the United States to show a proper spirit.
It was suggested that those who were in favor of resisting British aggressions should mount the tri-colored cockade; and forthwith it was mounted by many; while a democratic society was formed to correspond with the one at Philadelphia, and aid in giving effect to these popular sentiments.
While the public mind was in this inflammable state, Washington received advices from Mr. Pinckney, the American minister in London, informing him that the British ministry had issued instructions to the commanders of armed vessels, revoking those of the 6th of November, 1793. Lord Grenville also, in conversation with Mr. Pinckney, had explained the real motives for that order, showing that, however oppressive in its execution, it had not been intended for the special vexation of American commerce.
Washington laid Pinckney's letter before Congress on the 4th of April. It had its effect on both parties; federalists saw in it a chance of accommodating difficulties, and, therefore, opposed all measures calculated to irritate; the other party did not press their belligerent
propositions to any immediate decision, but showed no solicitude to avoid a rupture.
Jefferson, though reputed to be the head of the French party, avowed in a letter to Madison his hope that war would not result, but that justice would be obtained in a peaceable way; * and he repeats the hope in a subsequent letter. My countrymen," writes he,
are groaning under the insults of Great Britain. I hope some means will turn up of reconciling our faith and honor with peace. I confess to you, I have seen enough of one war never to wish to see another." +
'Tis as great an error," writes Hamilton, at the same time, "for a nation to overrate as to underrate itself. Presumption is as great a fault as timidity. 'Tis our error to overrate ourselves and underrate Great Britain; we forget how little we can annoy, how much we may be annoyed." ‡
The war cry, however, is too obvious a means of popular excitement to be readily given up. Busy partisans saw that the feeling of the populace was belligerent, and every means were taken by the press and the democratic societies to exasperate this feeling; according to them the crisis called, not for moderation, but for decision, for energy. Still, to adhere to a neutral position, would argue tameness-cowardice! Washington, however, was too morally brave to be clamored out of his wise moderation by such taunts. He resolved to prevent a war if possible, by an appeal to British justice, to be made through a special envoy, who should
* Jefferson's Works, vol. iv., p. 102.
+ Ib. vol. iv., p. 104. Letter to John Adams.
+ Hamilton's Works, iv. 528.