페이지 이미지

On the 8th of January, 1804, he wrote in his Diary:—

"Employed the day in reading and writing. Varied the resolutions which I have concluded to offer to the Senate on the subject of the Louisiana revenue. The subject has already given me more than one sleepless night. Yet, for what? For the Constitution I have sworn to support, for the principles of justice, and for opposing to the utmost of my power those who in this measure will violate them all."

Mr. Adams failed to harmonize with either party in reference to the acquisition of Louisiana and the manner of bringing that territory into the Union. While siding with the Administration as to the propriety of the purchase, he wholly denied the justice and constitutionality of the extraordinary method by which Mr. Jefferson and his supporters were bringing it into the Union. The measure gave to the Democratic President a power wholly at variance with the pretensions of himself and his party, and Mr. Adams believed, without the slightest foundation in the Constitution. The two resolutions he had prepared, and which had given him sleepless nights, he introduced on the 10th of January; declaring, first: that the people of the United States have never, in any manner, delegated to this Senate the power of giving its legislative concurrence to any act imposing taxes upon the inhabitants of Louisiana without their consent; and second: that, by concurring in any act of legislation for imposing taxes upon the inhabitants of Louisiana, without their consent, this Senate would assume a power unwarranted by the Constitution, and dangerous to the liberties of the people of the United States.

In support of these resolutions he only got the votes of three or four Senators, less than had voted with him against the measure for the purchase of the territory. In this Louisiana controversy there was, perhaps, no direct slavery issue between the Northern and the Southern States; it was a matter of jealousy on the part of the manufacturing and mercantile interests of one section against the planter or cotton and sugar interests of the other. However much Mr. Jefferson may have shared the common sentiment of territorial acquisition among his countrymen, he could never justly be accused of secretly planning for the territorial expansion of human slavery. Still there is not wanting evidence that, at this remote period, Mr. Adams had some premonitions of the great struggle which would take place over this question, and of his own extraordinary conflicts. In 1805 he actually made considerable exertion to have a law passed for laying a tax on every slave imported into this country. While this matter shared the fate of most of his other efforts at this time, it serves, at least, to date the beginning of the fierce and often solitary conflict which he waged against the institution destined to test the vital powers of the Republic.

In the famous impeachment trial of Judge Samuel Chase of the United States Supreme Court, and John Pickering, District Judge of New Hampshire, Mr. Adams stood firmly for acquittal, believing that it was an effort on the part of Mr. Jefferson to degrade or destroy one of the three important branches of the Government. On the 5th of November, 1804, the day on which Congress convened, Mr. Adams made this record in his Diary :—

"The Vice-President, Mr. Burr, on the 11th of July last fought a duel with General Alexander Hamilton, and mortally wounded him, of which he died the next day. The coroner's inquest on his body found a verdict of willful murder by Aaron Burr, Vice-President of the United States. The Grand .Jury in the county of New York found an indictment against him, under the statute for sending the challenge; and the Grand Jury of Bergen County, New Jersey, where the duel was fought, have recently found a bill against him for murder. Under all these circumstances Mr. Burr appears and takes his seat as President of the Senate of the United States."

Mr. Adams forgot these reflections, perhaps, on this unmitigated scandal on the Senate, when some time afterwards he voted to give Burr the benefit of the "franking privilege" for life.

Mr. Adams's Diary at this period abounds in White House gossip, an accomplishment in which he was not much behind its distinguished occupant. He was on familiar terms with Mr. Jefferson, although he had not forgotten the little trick about the office in bankruptcy. For many of Mr. Jefferson's habits he had no respect, and especially was he disgusted with what he considered Mr. Jefferson's habitual fabrication of wonderful stories for effect. He thought this offensive quality in the President very transparent, and records an instance when he and Mrs. Adams were dining at the White House, in which Mr. Jefferson indulged in fabricating stories which he knew were not even founded in truth. But in making a record of events, either good or bad, which transpired at the President's table when he was a guest, laid Mr. Adams liable to the charge of bad faith, for which Mr. Jefferson has been so freely censured. If Mr. Adams exhibited any discretion or charity in speaking of men in public, he failed to do any thing of the kind in his Diary.

Among the many who came in for a share of his criticism and opposition were Vice-President George Clinton and General John Armstrong. The former he thought wholly unfit to preside over the Senate, let alone to occupy the higher place to which he aspired; and the nomination of General Armstrong, in the spring of 1806, to be Minister to Franoe, he strongly opposed, to some extent, perhaps, on the ground of his having been the author of the famous mutinous and unpatriotic Newburgh letter at the close of the Revolution. Mr. Adams bitterly censured Governor John F. Adair, of Kentucky, for defeating the opposition to Armstrong's confirmation by absenting himself from the Senate when the final vote was taken, when it was well understood that he was opposed to the nomination. But Mr. Adams's Diary also shows that he was not himself always blameless on this delicate point on which he censures Governor Adair.



IT may be doubted whether any other public men of New England so well understood the real character of the sentiments of the ruling classes in England and Prance toward this country as did Mr. Adams and his father. In England they had had similar experiences which they could not forget; and by the pretensions of France they had not been misled.

Only France's hatred of England gave substance and shadow to her friendship for the United States. While deeply and fully appreciating the hand extended by France in our struggle for national independence, they wisely abstained from becoming partisans to her European quarrels, or supporters of her mad and bloody domestic revolutions. If New England Federalists committed the folly of standing on the side of England, they got no countenance from them; and when they would have tamely submitted to her exactions and outrages, John Quincy Adams was one of the first to demand and defend a policy dictated by the plainest sense of personal and national honor, however offensive his course might become to the political leaders of his section.

When the agents of France held high carnival

« 이전계속 »