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EDMUND RANDOLPH-ADJOURNMENT OF CONGRESS.
in a letter enclosing his commission, Washington expressed the singular pleasure he felt in addressing him "as the head of that department which must be considered as the keystone of our political fabric."
Within a few days after Hamilton's appoint- | and a district judge. John Jay, of New York, ment, the House of Representatives (Sept. 21), received the appointment of Chief Justice, and acting upon the policy so ardently desired by Washington, passed a resolution, declaring their opinion of the high importance to the honor and prosperity of the United States, that an adequate provision should be made for the support of public credit; and instructing the Secretary of the Treasury to prepare a plan for the purpose, and report it at their next session.
The arrangement of the Judicial department was one of Washington's earliest cares. the 27th of September, he wrote unofficially to Edmund Randolph, of Virginia, informing him that he had nominated him Attorney-General of the United States, and would be highly gratified with his acceptance of that office. Some old recollections of the camp and of the early days of the Revolution, may have been at the bottom of this good-will, for Randolph had joined the army at Cambridge in 1775, and acted for a time as aide-de-camp to Washington in place of Mifflin. He had since gained experience in legislative business as member of Congress, from 1779 to 1782, Governor of Virginia in 1786, and delegate to the convention in 1787. In the discussions of that celebrated body, he had been opposed to a single executive, professing to discern in the unity of that power the "fœtus of monarchy;" and preferring an executive consisting of three; whereas, in the opinion of others, this plural executive would be "a kind of Cerberus with three heads." Like Madison, he had disapproved of the equality of suffrage in the Senate, and been, moreover, of opinion, that the President should be ineligible to office after a given number of years.
Dissatisfied with some of the provisions of the constitution as adopted, he had refused to sign it; but had afterwards supported it in the State convention of Virginia. As we recollect him many years afterwards, his appearance and address were dignified and prepossessing; he had an expressive countenance, a beaming eye, and somewhat of the ore rotundo in speaking. Randolph promptly accepted the nomination, but did not take his seat in the cabinet until some months after Knox and Hamilton.
By the judicial system established for the Federal Government, the Supreme Court of the United States was to be composed of a chief justice and five associate judges. There were to be district courts with a judge in each State, and circuit courts held by an associate judge 43
Jay's associate judges were, John Rutledge of South Carolina, James Wilson of Pennsylvania, William Cushing of Massachusetts, John Blair of Virginia, and James Iredell of North Carolina. Washington had originally nominated to one of the judgeships his former military secretary, Robert Harrison, familiarly known as the old Secretary; but he preferred the office of Chancellor of Maryland, recently conferred upon him.
On the 29th of September, Congress adjourned to the first Monday in January, after an arduous session, in which many important questions had been discussed, and powers organized and distributed. The actual Congress was inferior in eloquence and shining talent to the first Congress of the revolution; but it possessed men well fitted for the momentous work before them; sober, solid, upright, and well informed. An admirable harmony had prevailed between the legislature and the executive, and the utmost decorum had reigned over the public deliberations.
Fisher Ames, then a young man, who had acquired a brilliant reputation in Massachusetts by the eloquence with which he had championed the new constitution in the convention of that important State, and who had recently been elected to Congress, speaks of it in the following terms: "I have never seen an assembly where so little art was used. If they wish to carry a point, it is directly declared and justified. Its merits and defects are plainly stated, not without sophistry and prejudice, but without management. * **There is no intrigue, no caucusing, little of clanning together, little asperity in debate, or personal bitterness out of the House."
THE cabinet was still incomplete; the department of foreign affairs, or rather of State, as it was now called, was yet to be supplied with a head. John Jay would have received the nomination had he not preferred the bench. Wash
THOMAS JEFFERSON-SKETCH OF HIS CHARACTER AND OPINIONS. [1789.
but he had exercised his influence through his correspondence. "I expressed freely," writes he, "in letters to my friends, and most particularly to Mr. Madison and General Washington, my approbations and objections."* What those approbations and objections were appears by the following citations, which are important to be kept in mind as illustrating his after conduct:
ington next thought of Thomas Jefferson, who | part in the debates on the new constitution, had so long filled the post of Minister Plenipotentiary at the Court of Versailles, but had recently solicited and obtained permission to return, for a few months, to the United States, for the purpose of placing his children among their friends in their native country, and of arranging his private affairs, which had suffered from his protracted absence. And here we will venture a few particulars concerning this eminent statesman, introductory to the important influence he was to exercise on national affairs. His political principles as a democratic republican, had been avowed at an early date in his draft of the Declaration of Independence, and subsequently in the successful war which he made upon the old cavalier traditions of his native State; its laws of entails and primogeniture, and its church establishment, a war which broke down the hereditary fortunes and hereditary families, and put an end to the hereditary aristocracy of the Ancient Dominion.
Being sent to Paris as minister plenipotentiary a year or two after the peace, he arrived there, as he says, when the American revolution seemed to have awakened the thinking part of the French nation from the sleep of despotism in which they had been sunk."
"I approved, from the first moment, of the great mass of what is in the new constitution, the consolidation of the government, the organization into executive, legislative, and judiciary; the subdivision of the legislature, the happy compromise of the interests between the great and little States, by the different manner of voting in the different Houses, the voting by persons instead of States, the qualified negative on laws given to the executive, which, howev er, I should have liked better if associated with the judiciary also, as in New York, and the power of taxation: what I disapproved from the first moment, was the want of a bill of rights to guard liberty against the legislative as well as against the executive branches of the government; that is to say, to secure freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom from monopolies, freedom from unlawful imprisonment, freedom from a permanent military, and a trial by jury in all cases determinable by the laws of the land."
What he greatly objected to was the perpetual re-eligibility of the President. "This, I fear," said he, "will make that an office for life, first, and then hereditary. I was much an enemy to monarchies before I came to Europe, and am ten thousand times more so since I have seen what they are. There is scarcely an evil known in these countries which may not be traced to their king as its source, nor a good which is not derived from the small fibres of republicanism existing among them. I can further say, with safety, there is not a crowned head in Europe whose talents or merits would entitle him to be elected a vestryman by the people of any parish in America." +
Carrying with him his republican principles and zeal, his house became the resort of Lafayette and others of the French officers who had served in the American revolution. They were mostly, he said, young men little shackled by habits and prejudices, and had come back with new ideas and new impressions which began to be disseminated by the press and in conversation. Politics became the theme of all societies, male and female, and a very extensive and zealous party was formed which acquired the appellation of the Patriot Party, who, sensible of the abuses of the government under which they lived, sighed for occasions of reforming it. This party, writes Jefferson, "comprehended all the honesty of the kingdom sufficiently at leisure to think, the men of letters, the easy bourgeois, the young nobility, partly from reflection, partly from the mode; for these sentiments became matter of mode, and, as such, In short, such a horror had he imbibed of united most of the young women to the party.""kingly rule, that, in a familiar letter to Colonel By this party Jefferson was considered high Humphreys, who had been his Secretary of Le authority from his republican principles and gation, he gives it as the duty of our young Reexperience, and his advice was continually public "to besiege the throne of heaven with sought in the great effort for political reform eternal prayers to extirpate from creation this
which was daily growing stronger and stronger. His absence in Europe had prevented his taking
*Autoblography, Works, 1. 79.
t Letter to Washington, May 2, 1788. Works, ii, 374.
THOMAS JEFFERSON AND GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
class of human lions, tigers, and mammoths, I society, and striking aristocratical appearance,
called kings, from whom, let him perish who does not say, 'Good Lord, deliver us!'"
had given him great currency, especially in the court party and among the ancient nobility; in which direction his tastes most inclined. He had renewed his intimacy with Lafayette, whom he found "full of politics," but "too republican for the genius of his country."
In a letter to the French minister, residing in New York, Morris writes on the 23d of Febru
Jefferson's political fervor occasionally tended to exaltation, but it was genuine. In his exeited state he regarded with quick suspicion every thing in his own country that appeared to him to have a regal tendency. His sensitiveness had been awakened by the debates in Congress as to the title to be given to the Pres-ary, 1789: "Your nation is now in a most imident, whether or not he should be addressed as His Highness; and had been relieved by the decision that he was to have no title but that of office, viz.: President of the United States. "I hope," said Jefferson, "the terms of Excel-tuousness itself rises from its couch of roses and lency, Honor, Worship, Esquire, forever disappear from among us from that moment. wish that of Mr. would follow them."*
portant crisis, and the great question-shall we hereafter have a constitution, or shall will continue to be law-employs every mind and agitates every heart in France. Even volup
looks anxiously abroad at the busy scene to which nothing can now be indifferent.
also easily, too easily, misled. Such is the instinctive love of freedom which now grows warm in the bosom of your country."
When the king was constrained by the popular voice to convene the States General at Versailles for the purpose of discussing measures of reform, Jefferson was a constant attendant upon the debates of that body. "I was much acquainted with the leading patriots of the Assembly," writes he, "being from a country which had successfully passed through similar
"Your nobles, your clergy, your people, are With regard to the re-eligibility of the Pres- all in motion for the elections. A spirit which ident, his anxiety was quieted for the present, had been dormant for generations starts up and by the elevation of Washington to the Presi- stares about, ignorant of the means of obtaindential chair. "Since the thing [re-eligibility] ing, but ardently desirous to possess its object is established," writes he, "I would wish it not-consequently active, energetic, easily led, but to be altered during the lifetime of our great leader, whose executive talents are superior to those, I believe, of any man in the world, and who, alone, by the authority of his name, and the confidence reposed in his perfect integrity, is fully qualified to put the new government so under way as to secure it against the efforts of opposition. But, having derived from our error all the good there was in it, I hope we shall correct it the moment we can no longer have the same name at the helm."+ Jefferson, at the time of which we are speak-reform; they were disposed to my acquaintance ing, was, as we have shown, deeply immersed in French politics and interested in the success of the "Patriot Party," in its efforts to reform the country. His despatches to government all proved how strongly he was on the side of the people. "He considered a successful reformation in France as insuring a general reformation throughout Europe, and the resurrection to a new life of their people now ground to dust by the abuses of the governing powers."
Gouverneur Morris, who was at that time in Paris on private business, gives a different view of the state of things produced by the Patriot party. Morris had arrived in Paris on the 3d of February, 1789, furnished by Washington with letters of introduction to persons in England, France, and Holland. His brilliant talents, ready conversational powers, easy confidence in
* Letter to Mr. Carmichael, Works, iii. 88.
and had some confidence in me. I urged most strenuously an immediate compromise to secure what the government was now ready to yield, and trust to future occasions for what might still be wanting."
The "leading patriots" here spoken of, were chiefly the deputies from Brittany, who, with others, formed an association called the Breton Club, to watch the matters debated in Parliament and shape the course of affairs.
Morris, speaking of Jefferson at this juncture, observes, "He and I differ in our system of politics. He, with all the leaders of liberty here, is desirous of annihilating distinctions of order. How far such views may be right, respecting mankind in general, is, I think, extremely problematical. But, with respect to this nation, I am sure it is wrong and cannot eventuate well."*
* Life of G. Morris, i. 818.
JEFFERSON ON THE FRENCH ORISIS-WASHINGTON'S OPINION.
The foregoing brief notices of affairs in revolutionary France, and of the feelings with which they were viewed by American statesmen resident there, will be found of service in illustrating subsequent events in the United States.
Jefferson, in a letter to Thomas Paine (July | government, which, happily for America, we 11), giving some account of the proceedings of were cured of before it was too late." the States General, observes, "The National Assembly (for that is the name they take) having shown, through every stage of these transactions, a coolness, wisdom, and resolution to set fire to the four corners of the kingdom, and to perish with it themselves rather than to relinquish an iota from their plan of a total change of government, are now in complete and undisputed possession of the Sovereignty. The executive and aristocracy are at their feet; the mass of the nation, the mass of the clergy, and the army are with them; they have pros-suaded I express the sentiments of my fellowtrated the old government and are now beginning to build one from the foundation."
It was but three days after the date of this letter that the people of Paris rose in their might, plundered the arsenal of the Invalides, furnished themselves with arms, stormed the Bastille; and a national guard, formed of the Bourgeoisie, with the tricolored cockade for an emblem and Lafayette as commander, took Paris under its protection.
Information of these events was given at midnight to the king at Versailles by Rochefoucauld-Liancourt. "It is a revolt," exclaimed the king. "Sire," replied Liancourt, "it is a revolution!"
Jefferson, in his despatches to government, spoke with admiration of the conduct of the people throughout the violent scenes which accompanied this popular convulsion. "There was a severity of honesty observed, of which no example has been known. Bags of money, offered on various occasions through fear or guilt, have been uniformly refused by the mobs. The churches are now occupied in singing' De Profundis' and 'Requiems' for the repose of the souls of the brave and valiant citizens who have sealed, with their blood, the liberty of the nation. * * * We cannot suppose this paroxysm confined to Paris alone; the whole country must pass successfully through it, and happy if they get through as soon and as well as Paris has done."*
The first news of the Revolution reached America in October, and was hailed by the great mass of the people with enthusiasm. Washington in reply to his old comrade in arms, the Count de Rochambeau, observes: "I am per
citizens, when I offer an earnest prayer that it may terminate in the permanent honor and happiness of your government and people."
But, in a reply of the same date (13th Oct.) to Gouverneur Morris, he shows that his circumspect and cautious spirit was not to be hurried away by popular excitement. "The revolution which has been effected in France," writes he, "is of so wonderful a nature, that the mind can hardly realize the fact. If it ends as our last accounts to the 1st of August predict, that nation will be the most powerful and happy in Europe; but I fear, though it has gone triumphantly through the first paroxysm, it is not the last it has to encounter before matters are finally settled. In a word, the revolution is of too great a magnitude to be effected in so short a space, and with the loss of so little blood. The mortification of the king, the intrigues of the queen, and the discontent of the princes and noblesse, will foment divisions, if possible, in the National Assembly; and they will, unquestionably, avail themselves of every faur pas in the formation of the constitution, if they do not give a more open, active opposition. In addition to these, the licentiousness of the people on one hand, and sanguinary punishments on the other, will alarm the best disposed friends to the measure, and contribute not a little to the overthrow of their object. Great temperance, firmness, and foresight are necessary in the movements of that body. To forbear running from one extreme to another, is no easy matter: and should this be the case, rocks and shelves, not visible at present, may wreck the vessel and give a higher-toned des
Gouverneur Morris, writing on the same subject to Washington, on the 31st of July, observes: "You may consider the Revolution as complete. The authority of the king and of the nobility is completely subdued; yet I trem-potism than the one which existed before."* ble for the constitution. They have all the romantic spirit and all the romantic ideas of France with a mixture of pleasure and appre
Hamilton, too, regarded the recent events in
Letter to John Jay. Jefferson's Works, ill. 80.
*Writings of Washington, x. 39.
WASHINGTON'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE EASTERN STATES.
hension. In a letter to Lafayette he writes: | secretary, Mr. Lear. Though averse from pub"As a friend to mankind and to liberty, I re-lic parade, he could not but be deeply affected
joice in the efforts which you are making to establish it, while I fear much for the final success of the attempts, for the fate of those who are engaged in it, and for the danger in case of success, of innovations greater than will consist with the real felicity of your nation. * I dread disagreements among those who are now united, about the nature of your constitution; I dread the vehement character of your people, whom, I fear, you may find it more easy to bring on, than to keep within proper bounds after you have put them in motion. I dread the interested refractoriness of your nobles, who cannot all be gratified, and who may be unwilling to submit to the requisite sacrifices. And I dread the reveries of your philosophic politicians, who appear in the moment to have great influence, and who, being mere speculatists, may aim at more refinement than suits either with human nature or the composition of your nation." *
and gratified at every step by the manifestations
On the 22d, just after entering Massachusetts, he was met by an express from the Governor of the State (the Hon. John Hancock), inviting him to make his quarters at his house while he should remian in Boston, and announcing to him that he had issued orders for proper escorts to attend him, and that the troops with the gentlemen of the Council would receive him at Cambridge and wait on him to town.
Washington, in a courteous reply, declined the Governor's invitation to his residence, hav
The opposite views and feelings of Hamilton and Jefferson, with regard to the French revolation, are the more interesting, as these emi-ing resolved, he said, on leaving New York, to nent statesmen were soon to be brought face to face in the cabinet, the policy of which would be greatly influenced by French affairs; for it was at this time that Washington wrote to Jefferson, offering him the situation of Secretary of State, but forbearing to nominate a successor to his post at the Court of Versailles, until he should be informed of his determination.
Ar the time of writing the letter to Jefferson, offering him the department of State, Washington was on the eve of a journey through the Eastern States, with a view, as he said, to observe the situation of the country, and with a hope of perfectly re-establishing his health, which a series of indispositious had much impaired. Having made all his arrangements, and left the papers appertaining to the office of Foreign Affairs under the temporary superintendence of Mr. Jay, he set out from New York on the 15th of October, travelling in his car
riage with four horses, and accompanied by his official secretary, Major Jackson, and his private
* Hamilton's Works, v. 440.
accept of no invitations of the kind while on his journey, through an unwillingness to give trouble to private families. He had accordingly instructed a friend to engage lodgings for him during his stay in Boston. He was highly sensible, he observed, of the honors intended him; but, could his wishes prevail, he would desire to visit the metropolis without any parade or extraordinary ceremony. It was never Washington's good fortune, on occasions of the kind, to have his modest inclinations consulted; in the present instance they were little in accord with the habits and notions of the Governor,
who, accustomed to fill public stations and preside at public assemblies, which he did with the punctilio of the old school, was strictly observant of every thing appertaining to official rank and dignity. Governor Hancock was now about fifty-two years of age, tall and thin, of a commanding deportment and graceful manner, though stooping a little and much afflicted with the gout. He was really hospitable, which his ample wealth enabled him to be, and was no doubt desirous of having Washington as a guest under his roof, but resolved, at all events, to
give him a signal reception as the guest of the
State over which he presided. Now it so happened that the "select-men," or municipal authorities of Boston, had also made arrange