Slike strani
PDF
ePub

1795.]

KNOX SUCCEEDED BY PICKERING.

225

Knox was succeeded in the war department by Colonel Timothy Pickering, at that time Postmaster General.

The session of Congress closed on the 3d of March, 1795.

VOL. V.-15

CHAPTER X X VII.

WASHINGTON'S ANXIETY ABOUT THE PROGRESS OF THE NEGOTIATION WITH

ENGLAND--JAY'S TREATY ARRIVES FOR RATIFICATION-PREDISPOSI

TION TO CONDEMN-RETURN OF JAY-ADET SUOCEEDS FAUCHET AS

MINISTER FROM FRANOE-THE TREATY LAID BEFORE THE SENATE

RATIFIED WITH A QUALIFICATION—A NOVEL QUESTION--POPULAR

DISCONTENT ABSTRAOT OF THE TREATY PUBLISHED-VIOLENT OPPOSI

TION TO IT-WASHINGTON RESOLVED TO RATIFY-HIS RESOLUTION

SUSPENDED-GOES TO MOUNT VERNON-REPLY TO AN ADDRESS FROM

BOSTON-INCREASING OLAMOR.

WASHINGTON had watched the progress of the mission of Mr. Jay to England, with an anxious eye. He was aware that he had exposed his popularity to imminent hazard, by making an advance toward a negotiation with that power ; but what was of still greater moment with him, he was aware that the peace and happiness of his country were at stake on the result of that mission. It was, moreover, a mission of great delicacy, from the many intricate and difficult points to be discussed, and the various and mutual grounds of complaint to be adjusted.

Mr. Jay, in a letter dated August 5th, 1794, had informed him confidentially, that the ministry were prepared to settle the matters in dispute upon just and liberal terms; still, what those terms, which they conceived to be just and liberal, might prove when they came to be closely discussed, no one could prognosticate.

1795.]

JAY'S TREATY ARRIVES.

227

Washington hardly permitted himself to hope for the complete success of the mission. To 'give and take,' he presumed would be the result. In the mean time there were so many hot heads and impetuous spirits at home to be managed and restrained, that he was anxious the negotiation might assume a decisive form and be brought to a speedy close. He was perplexed too, by what, under existing circumstances, appeared piratical conduct, on the part of Bermudian privateers persisting in capturing American vessels.

At length, on the 7th of March, 1795, four days after the close of the session of Congress, a treaty arrived which had been negotiated by Mr. Jay, and signed by the ministers of the two nations on the 19th of November, and was sent out for ratification.

In a letter to Washington, which accompanied the treaty, Mr. Jay wrote: “To do more was impossible. I ought not to conceal from you that the confidence reposed in your personal character was visible and useful throughout the negotiation.”

Washington immediately made the treaty a close study; some of the provisions were perfectly satisfactory; of others, he did not approve; on the whole, he considered it a matter, to use his own expression, of give and take,' and believing the advantages to outweigh the objections, and that, as Mr. Jay alleged, it was the best treaty attainable, he made up his mind to ratify it, should it be approved by the Senate.

As a system of predetermined hostility to the treaty, however, was already manifested, and efforts were made to awaken popular jealousy concerning it, Washington kept its provisions secret, that the public mind might

[ocr errors]

not be preoccupied on the subject. In the course of a few days, however, enough leaked out to be seized upon by the opposition press to excite public distrust, though not enough to convey a distinct idea of the merits of the instrument. In fact, the people were predisposed to condemn, because vexed that any overtures had been made toward a negotiation, such overtures having been stigmatized as cowardly and degrading. If it had been necessary to send a minister to England, said they, it should have been to make a downright demand of reparation for wrongs inflicted on our commerce, and the immediate surrender of the Western posts.

In the mean time Jay arrived on the 28th of May, and found that during his absence in Europe he had been elected governor of the State of New York; an honorable election, the result of no effort nor intrigue, but of the public sense entertained by his native State, of his pure and exalted merit. He, in consequence, resigned the office of Chief Justice of the United States.

In the course of this month arrived Mr. Adet, who had been appointed by the French government to succeed Mr. Fauchet as minister to the United States. He brought with him the colors of France which the Convention had instructed him to present as a testimonial of friendship, in return for the American flag which had been presented by Mr. Monroe. The presentation of the colors was postponed by him for the present.

The Senate was convened by Washington on the 8th of June, and the treaty of Mr. Jay was laid before it, with its accompanying documents. The Session was with closed doors, discussions were long and arduous, and the treaty underwent a scrutinizing examination. The twelfth article met with especial objections.

1795.]

THE SENATE RATIFY.

229

;

This article provided for a direct trade between the United States and the British West India Islands, in American vessels not exceeding seventy tons burden, conveying the produce of the States or of the Islands; but it prohibited the exportation of molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa, or cotton, in American vessels, either from the United States or the Islands, to any part of the world. Under this article it was a restricted intercourse, but Mr. Jay considered the admission, even of small vessels, to the trade of these islands, an important advantage to the commerce of the United States. He had not sufficiently adverted to the fact that, among the prohibited articles, cotton was also a product of the Southern States. Its cultivation had been but recently introduced there so that when he sailed for Europe hardly sufficient had been raised for domestic consumption, and at the time of signing the treaty very little, if any, had been exported. Still it was now becoming an important staple of the South, and hence the objection of the Senate to this article of the treaty. On the 24th of June twothirds of the Senate, the constitutional majority, voted for the ratification of the treaty, stipulating, however, that an article be added suspending so much of the twelfth article as respected the West India trade, and that the President be requested to open, without delay, further negotiation on this head.

Here was a novel case to be determined. Could the Senate be considered to have ratified the treaty before the insertion of this new article? Was the act complete and final so as to render it unnecessary to refer it back to that body? Could the President put his final seal upon an act before it was complete ? After

« PrejšnjaNaprej »