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1791.]

JOHN ADAMS.

95

element is confusion, and who will not hesitate in destroying the public tranquillity to gain a favorite point."

Sympathy with the popular cause prevailed with a part of Washington's cabinet. Jefferson was ardent in his wishes that the revolution might be established. He felt, he said, that the permanence of our own revolution leaned, in some degree, on that of France ; that a failure there would be a powerful argument to prove there must be a failure here, and that the success of the French revolution was necessary to stay up our own and "prevent its falling back to that kind of half-way house, the English constitution."

Outside of the cabinet, the Vice President, John Adams, regarded the French revolution with strong distrust. His official position, however, was too negative in its nature to afford him an opportunity of exerting influence on public affairs. He considered the post of Vice President beneath his talents. “My country,' writes he, "has, in its wisdom, contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." * Impatient of a situation in which, as he said, he could do neither good nor evil, he resorted, for mental relief, to the press, and for upwards of a year had exercised his fertile and ever ready pen, in furnishing Fenno's Gazette of the United States, with a series of papers entitled, “Discourses on Davila," being an analysis of Davila's History of the Civil Wars of France in the 16th century. The aim of Mr. Adams, in this series, was to point out to his countrymen the dangers to be apprehended from powerful factions in ill-balanced forms of government; but his aim was mistaken, and he was charged with advocating monarchy, and laboring to prepare the way for an hereditary presidency. To counteract these

* Life, i. 460.

political heresies," a reprint of Paine's Rights of Man, written in reply to Burke's pamphlet on the French revolution, appeared under the auspices of Mr. Jeffer

son.

While the public mind was thus agitated with conflicting opinions, news arrived in August, of the flight of Louis XVI. from Paris, and his recapture at Varennes. All Jefferson's hatred of royalty was aroused by this breach of royal faith. “ Such are the fruits of that form of government,” said he, scornfully, “which heaps importance on idiots, and which the tories of the present day are trying to preach into our favor. It would be unfortunate were it in the power of any one man to defeat the issue of so beautiful a revolution. I hope and trust that it is not, and that, for the good of suffering humanity all over the earth, that revolution will be established and spread all over the world.”

He was the first to communicate the intelligence to Washington, who was holding one of his levees, and observes, “I never saw him so much dejected by any event

life.” Washington, himself, declares that he remained for some time in painful suspense, as to what would be the consequences of this event. Ultimately, when news arrived that the king had accepted the constitution from the hands of the National Assembly, he hailed the event as promising happy consequences to France, and to mankind in general ; and what added to his joy, was the noble and disinterested part which his friend, Lafayette, had acted in this great drama. “The prayers

in my life.”

1791.]

WASHINGTON TO LAFAYETTE.

97

and wishes of the human race," writes he to the Marquis, “have attended the exertions of your nation ; and when your affairs are settled under an energetic and equal government, the hearts of all good men will be satisfied."

CHAPTER XIV.

RURAL HOURS AT MOUNT VERNON-ASSEMBLING OF SECOND CONGRESS

WASHINGTON'S OPENING SPEECH-TWO EXPEDITIONS ORGANIZED AGAINST THE INDIANS, UNDER SCOTT AND WILKINSON--THEIR FEEBLE RESULT-THIRD EXPEDITION UNDER ST. OLAIR-HIS DISASTROUS

CONTEST AND DISMAL RETREAT-HOW WASHINGTON RECEIVED THE

INTELLIGENCE.

A few weeks of autumn were passed by Washington at Mount Vernon, with his family in rural enjoyment, and in instructing a new agent, Mr. Robert Lewis, in the management of his estate; his nephew, Major George A. Washington, who ordinarily attended to his landed concerns, being absent among the mountains in quest of health

The second Congress assembled at Philadelphia on the 24th of October, and on the 25th Washington delivered his opening speech. After remarking upon the prosperous situation of the country, and the success which had attended its financial measures, he adverted to the offensive operations against the Indians, which government had been compelled to adopt for the protection of the Western frontier. Some of these operations, he observed, had been successful, others were still depending. A brief statement will be sufficient for the successful operations alluded to. To reconcile some

1791.]

OPERATIONS AGAINST THE INDIANS.

99

of the people of the West, to the appointment of General St. Clair as commander-in-chief in that quarter, a local board of war had been formed for the Western country, empowered to act in conjunction with the commanding officer of the United States, in calling out the militia ; sending out expeditions against the Indians, and apportioning scouts through the exposed parts of the district of Kentucky.

Under this arrangement two expeditions had been organized in Kentucky against the villages on the Wabash. The first, in May, was led by General Charles Scott, having General Wilkinson as second in command. The second, a volunteer enterprise, in August, was led by Wilkinson alone. Very little good was effected, or glory gained by either of these expeditions. Indian villages and wigwams were burned, and fields laid waste; some few warriors were killed and prisoners taken, and an immense expense incurred.

Of the events of a third enterprise, led by General St. Clair himself, no tidings had been received at the time of Washington's opening speech; but we will anticipate the official despatches and proceed to show how it fared with that veteran soldier, and how far he profited by the impressive warning which he had received from the President at parting.

The troops for his expedition assembled early in September, in the vicinity of Fort Washington (now Cincinnati). There were about two thousand regulars, and one thousand militia. The regulars included a corps of artillery and several squadrons of horse. An arduous task was before them. Roads were to be opened through a wilderness; bridges constructed for the con

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