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will steadily pursue their interest, or those who cannot see, or seeing, will not act wisely? And I will ask another question, of the highest magnitude in my mind, to wit, if the Eastern and Northern States are dangerous in union, will they be less so in separation? If selfinterest is their governing principle, will it forsake them, or be restrained by such an event? I hardly think it would. Then, independently of other considerations, what would Virginia, and such other States as might be inclined to join her, gain by a separation? Would they not, most unquestionably, be the weaker party?"
At this juncture (March 21st), when Virginian discontents were daily gaining strength, Mr. Jefferson arrived in New York to undertake the duties of the Department of State. We have shown his strong antipathies, while in Paris, to every thing of a monarchical or aristocratical tendency; he had just been in Virginia, where the forms and ceremonials adopted at the seat of our government, were subjects of cavil and sneer; where it was reported that Washington affected a monarchical style in his official intercourse, that he held court-like levees, and Mrs. Washington "queenly drawing-rooms," at which none but the aristocracy were admitted, that the manners of both were haughty, and their personal habits reserved and exclusive.
The impressions thus made on Jefferson's mind, received a deeper stamp on his arrival in New York, from conversations with his friend Madison, in the course of which, the latter observed, that "the satellites and sycophants which surrounded Washington, had wound up the ceremonials of the government to a pitch of stateliness which nothing but his personal character could
have supported, and which no character after him could ever maintain.
Thus prepossessed and premonished, Jefferson looked round him with an apprehensive eye, and appears to have seen something to startle him at every turn. We give, from his private correspondence, his own account of his impressions. "Being fresh from the French revolution, while in its first and pure stage, and, consequently, somewhat whetted up in my own republican principles, I found a state of things in the general society of the place, which I could not have supposed possible. The revolution I had left, and that we had just gone through in the recent change of our own government, being the common topics of conversation, I was astonished to find the general prevalence of monarchical sentiments, insomuch, that in maintaining those of republicanism, I had always the whole company on my hands, never scarcely finding among them a single coadvocate in that argument, unless some old member of Congress happened to be present. The furthest that any one would go in support of the republican features of our new government, would be to say, 'the present constitution is well as a beginning, and may be allowed a fair trial, but it is, in fact, only a stepping stone to something better.'"
This picture, given under excitement and with preconceived notions, is probably over-charged; but, allowing it to be true, we can hardly wonder at it, viewed in connection with the place and times. New York, during the session of Congress, was the gathering place of politicians of every party. The revolution of France
had made the forms of government once more the universal topics of conversation, and revived the conflict of opinions on the subject. As yet, the history of the world had furnished no favorable examples of popular government; speculative writers in England had contended that no government more popular than their own, was consistent with either internal tranquillity, the supremacy of the laws, or a great extent of empire. Our republic was ten times larger than any that had yet existed. Jay, one of the calmest thinkers of the Union, expressed himself dubiously on the subject.
"Whether any people could long govern themselves in an equal, uniform, and orderly manner, was a question of vital importance to the cause of liberty, but a question which, like others, whose solution depends on facts, could only be determined by experience-now, as yet, there had been very few opportunities of making the experiment."
Alexander Hamilton, though pledged and sincerely disposed to support the republican form, with regard to our country, preferred, theoretically, a monarchical form; and, being frank of speech, and, as Gouverneur Morris writes, "prone to mount his hobby," may have spoken openly in favor of that form as suitable to France; and as his admirers took their creed from him, opinions of the kind may have been uttered pretty freely at dinnertables. These, however, which so much surprised and shocked Mr. Jefferson, were probably merely speculative opinions, broached in unguarded hours, with no sinister design, by men who had no thought of paving the way for a monarchy. They made, however, a deep
impression on his apprehensive mind, which sank deeper and deeper until it became a fixed opinion with him, that there was the desire and aim of a large party, of which Hamilton was the leader, to give a regal form to the government.
THE ASSUMPTION OF THE STATE DEBTS DISCUSSED-WASHINGTON IN FAVOR—A MAJORITY OF TWO AGAINST IT-HAMILTON'S APPEAL TO JEFFERSON ON THE SUBJECT-THE LATTER ARRANGES FOR A COMPROMISE HIS ACCOUNT OF IT-ADJUSTMENT ABOUT THE SEAT OF GOVCARRIED-TREATY OF PEACE WITH THE
THE question of the assumption of the State debts was resumed in Congress on the 29th of March, on a motion to commit, which was carried by a majority of two; the five members from North Carolina (now a State of the Union) who were strongly opposed to assumption, having taken their seats and reversed the position of parties on the question. An angry and intemperate discussion was revived, much to the chagrin of Washington, who was concerned for the dignity of Congress; and who considered the assumption of the State debts, under proper restrictions and scrutiny into accounts, to be just and reasonable.* On the 12th of April, when the question to commit was taken, there was a majority of two against the assumption.
* See letter to David Stuart, Writings, x. p. 98.