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pass without letting Freneau feel the weight of their displeasure.
"The circumstance of your having come from another state to set up and conduct a state paper; the circumstance of the editor of that new paper being appointed a clerk in the Department of State; the coincidence in point of time of that appointment with the commencement of your paper, or to speak more correctly its precedency-the conformity between the complexion of your paper and the known politics of the head of the department who employed youthese circumstances, collectively, leave no doubt of your true situation; the connection arising from them is too strong to be weakened by any of those bold or even solemn declarations which are among the hackneyed tricks employed by the purists in politics of every country and age to cheat the people into a belief of their superior sanctity, integrity, and virtue. If you had been previously the conductor of a newspaper in this city if your appointment had been any considerable time subsequent to the institution of your paper there might have been some reason for subterfuge, but as matters stand, you have no possible escape."
We all know that at the time of the framing of the Constitution the political world was divided into two antagonistic parties: the one calling themselves Federalists, who believed in centralization, and the other, anti-Federalists or Republicans (the name of Democrat then being given only by way of reproach), who believed in decentralization.
The former party had adopted as their platform the principles of a close and lasting union between the States, and a compact form of government invested with authority by the State, and not by the individuals of which it was composed. The English Constitution being in their opinion the nearest to perfect ever
planned, they deemed it the most desirable one upon which to form the Constitution of the United States. They desired that the President should be elected for life upon good behavior; and that the senators and the governors of the different States should be selected by the Senate. They wished the Senate and House of Representatives to make the laws, and the President to execute them, and that the latter should have the power to veto the Acts of the State Legislatures. They desired restricted suffrage, the encouragement of foreign commerce and domestic manufacture, the latter protected by tariff. They deemed it necessary to have a powerful standing army, and desired a diplomatic service like that of Europe, and that there should be great formality along with the etiquette of the foreign courts, which they thought necessary to insure respect for authority. This party comprised those who inclined to England through kinship, language, and hatred of France.
The anti-Federalists, or Republicans, desired to preserve the independence of the several States, and advocated unity in regard to foreign matters, but plurality in home affairs. They wished to retain the Plan of Confederation, altering it to suit the present state of affairs and present needs. They thought such a centralization of power as the Federalists desired would rob the individual States of their sovereignty, and clothe the President with too much power, leaving the people too unprotected. They advocated the extension of suffrage, and the encouragement of agriculture and internal trade, rather than foreign commerce. They preferred the employment of well drilled militia instead of standing armies, and advocated simplicity and economy in the government, and the doing away with all monarchial forms; also open sessions of Congress. They charged the Federals with the design of establishing a monarchy on the ruins of the republican
form of government, and they even thought to see embodied in their plan certain principles which might sustain this charge. They inclined to France, as having come to our assistance in time of need, and hated England because of her injustice and unnatural conduct towards her colonies, and harsh treatment of her colonial subjects.
The Federalists were in the majority and were defended by Alexander Hamilton, who was of foreign birth, and, although free from State prejudices in a considerable degree, still evinced a repugnance to a republican form of government. His sympathies were pre-eminently with England.
Franklin had been the originator of the Plan of Confederation; it had been his ruling idea for a republican form of government since before the Revolution, and he desired its continuance in a modified form.
The strife between the two parties for the shaping of the Constitution ran high, and very probably there has been nothing equal to it in the history of America.
From this strife arose a third party; for many feared that such a vast amount of power centralized in one person might lead to despotism, yet they were desirous of having a closer bond of union between the States than would exist under the Plan of Confederation. Of this party Madison was the founder, and his plan combined the views of the other parties, and is the basis of our present Constitution.
All three parties felt the truth expressed in these words of James Wilson, although their several applications of them differed somewhat:
"We are laying the foundation of a building in which millions are interested, and which is to last for ages. In laying one stone amiss we may injure the superstructure, and what will be the consequences if the corner-stone should be loosely placed?
Jefferson was in France at the time, and had no
part in the framing of the Constitution; but he was known to have opposed it in its origin, and his adversaries did not hesitate to make known the fact at the time of his supposed coalition with the editor of the "National Gazette."
"It is a fact," they wrote, "which the debates in the Virginia Convention will testify, that Mr. Jefferson was, in the origin, opposed to the present Constitution of the United States. It is a fact known to every man who approaches that officer (for he takes no pains to conceal it and will not thank you to deny it), that he arraigns the principal measures of the government and it may be added with indecent if not indiscreet warmth."
And he was brought to task pretty severely for conferring an office in his department upon an editor of a paper. It was said to be "an experiment somewhat new in the history of political manoeuvre in the country;" and again, that "a connection between the editor of a paper and a head of a department of the government is indelicate and unfit, and consequently of a nature to justify suspicion.'
In his reply to a letter from Washington, in which the latter seems to have reproached him for this connection, Jefferson makes some very sarcastic allusions to the Secretary of the Treasury, whom he seems to hold accountable for the reproach, and then goes on to
"When we removed to Philadelphia, Mr. Pintard, the translating clerk, did not choose to remove with us; his office then became vacant. I was applied to there, for Freneau, and had no hesitation to promise the clerkship for him. I cannot recollect whether it was at the time or afterwards, that I was told he had a thought of setting up a newspaper there; but whether then or afterwards, I considered it a circumstance of some value, as it might enable me to do what I had long
wished to have done; that is, to have the material parts of the 'Leyden Gazette' brought under your eye and that of the public, in order to possess yourself and them of a juster view of the affairs of Europe than could be obtained from any other public This I had ineffectually attempted through the press of Mr. Fenno while in New York, selecting and translating passages myself at first, then having it done by Mr. Pintard, the translating clerk. But they found their way too slowly into Freneau's papers.
"Mr. Bache essayed it for me in Philadelphia; but his, being a daily paper, did not circulate sufficiently in the other States. He even tried, at my request, the plan of a weekly paper of recapitulation, from his daily paper, in hopes that that might go into the other States; but in this too we failed. Mr. Freneau as translator, and the editor of a periodical paper likely to circulate through the States (uniting in one person the parts of Pintard and Fenno), served my hopes that the thing could at length be effected.
"On the establishment of his paper, therefore, I furnished him with the Leyden Gazettes,' with an expression of my own wish that he would always translate and publish the material intelligence they contained; and I have continued to furnish them from time to time, as regularly as I received them. But as to any other direction or indication of my wish, how his press should be conducted, what sort of intelligence he should give, what essays encourage, - I can protest in the presence of Heaven, that I never did, by myself or through any other, directly or indirectly, say a syllable nor attempt any kind of influence. I can further protest in the same awful presence, that I never did, by myself or any other, directly or indirectly, write, dictate, or procure any one sentiment or sentence to be inserted in his or any other gazette, to which my name was not affixed, or that of my office.1
"I surely need not except here a thing so foreign to the present subject as a little paragraph about our Algerine captives, which I put once into Fenno's paper. Freneau's proposition to publish a paper having been about the time that the writings of Publicola,' and the discourses on Davila' had
1 This letter was written in 1792, a year before Freneau retired from the editorship of the paper.