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The "Newburg Address."-Washington's firmness. -The new Constitution.
Early in the spring of 1783, the prevailing discontent of the troops reached its crisis. An anonymous inflammatory address was secretly circulated among the soldiers," and a call for a meeting of the officers was made. Washington immediately called a general meeting of all the officers, in place of the irregular one. He affectiontionately addressed his companions-in-arms, condemned the tone and spirit of the anonymous address, and then gave them the strongest pledge that he would use his utmost power to induce Congress to grant their demands. When he had concluded he immediately retired from the meeting, and exceedingly brief were the deliberations of the officers. They adopted resolutions, expressing their confidence in the justice of Congress, and thanked the commander-in-chief for the course he had pursued, and declared their unabated attachment to his person.
a March 10.
During the summer, Washington wrote a circular letter to the gov ernors of the states, replete with patriotic sentiment, and this was soon followed by his admirable farewell address to the army. On the 18th of October, Congress proclaimed the disbanding of the continental army; and on the 4th of December, Washington bade a final adieu to his companions-in-arms, and hastened to Annapolis, where Congress was in 6 Dec. 23, session, and resigned into its keeping the commission which he received from that body more than eight years before, appointing him commander-in-chief of the continental armies.* He then hastened to Mount Vernon, resolved there to pass the remainder of his days amid the pure delights of the domestic circle, and wear in private that crown of glorious renown so nobly won by gallant deeds and pa tient sufferings for his country's good. In a letter written three days after his arrival home he said: "The scene is at length closed; I feel myself eased of a load of public care, and hope to spend the remainder of my days in cultivating the affections of good men, and the practice of the domestic virtues."
But his country, still in a distracted state, greatly needed his wisdom and forethought, and he was soon again drawn forth into active life. The inefficiency of the Articles of Confederation was felt by all reflecting men, and it was obvious that something must be done to remedy the defects, or anarchy and utter ruin would be the result. A convention was c Sept., called to revise those articles; and subsequently another was held, when they were entirely laid aside, and a new and more perfect constitution for the government of the country was adopted. Washington was a member of that convention, and presided over its deliberations; and when the government was organ
On his way to Annapolis, he stopped at Philadelphia, and rendered in his accounts to the auditor-general. The whole amount of his expenditures during the war was only about seventy thousand dollars, and of this nearly ten thousand dollars was for procuring secret intelligence.
d May, 1787.
Washington elected and inaugurated President.-State of the country.
ized under the new constitution, and a president of the United States was chosen by ballot in the electoral college, Washington was elected by a unanimous vote.
Two days after the intelligence of his election reached him," a April 16, Washington "bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life and domestic felicity," and proceeded to New York, the seat of the federal government. His progress thitherward from Alexandria was like a continued march of triumph, and in every place through which he passed congratulations and addresses met him on every side.* At Philadelphia, a civic crown was placed upon his head; and at Trenton, where he was met by a deputation from Congress, the highest honors were paid to him by the inhabitants. At Elizabethtown Point he embarked in an elegant barge, rowed by thirteen pilots, and was received at the landing at Whitehall, in New York, by Governor Clinton and suite, amid the joyous acclamations of the citizens and strangers. On the 30th of April,' he took the inaugural oath on the balcony of the old Federal hall, in the presence of assembled thousands, and this act was the crowning one of the war of independence.
Washington's administration commenced under the pressure of many embarrassments and discouragements. The treasury was empty, a heavy foreign and domestic debt weighed upon the government, foreign intrigue threatened serious trouble, and almost universal agitation at home made everything seem unstable. Two of the thirteen states had not ratified the constitution, but they finally came into the Union - North Carolina in November, 1789, and Rhode Island in May, 1790. Violent political parties arose, whose distinctions are still faintly visible. The friends of the new constitution, with Washington and Adams at their
"Welcome, mighty chief, once more,
Now no mercenary foe
So great were the honors with which he was loaded, that they could scarcely have failed to produce haughtiness in the mind of an ordinary man; but nothing of the kind was ever discovered in this extraordinary personage. On all occasions he behaved to all men with the affability of one citizen to another. He was truly great, in deserving the plaudits of his country, but much greater in not being elated with them."— - RAMSAY, vol. ii., p. 345.
† A triumphal arch was erected, under the direction of the ladies of the place, upon the crown of which was displayed in large characters, "December, 1776" (the day of the battle of Trenton). On the sweep of the arch beneath was this inscription: "The defender of the mothers will also protect the daughters." On one side was arranged a row of girls, dressed in white, and carrying baskets of flowers; in a second row stood the young ladies, and immediately behind them the married ladies. The instant he passed the arch, the young girls strewed flowers before him, and sang the following ode:
Aims again the fatal blow→
Hamilton's financial scheme. -The "Whiskey Insurrection."-
head, were called federalists, and those who had opposed the adoption of that instrument were denominated anti-federalists. But amid all of these embarrassments and agitations, Washington calmly guided the helm of state with a firm hand, and called to his aid some of the ablest men of the country.*
The first session of Congress lasted about six months; and after the adjournment, Washington made a tour through the eastern states, and was everywhere greeted with the most cordial welcome.
At the second session of Congress, Hamilton presented his financial scheme, which established the course of the national policy, and governed the fiscal acts of several subsequent administrations. This scheme provided for the funding of the public debt; the assumption of state debts by the general government; for a system of revenue from duties on imports; and an internal excise. During that session an act was passed providing for the permanent seat of the national government at the Disa to March, trict of Columbia. During the third session of this Congress," 1791. a national bank was incorporated; a mint was established for the purpose of national coinage; and the newly-created states of Vermont and Kentucky were admitted into the Union. The public credit became established, and general prosperity marked the progress of the confederacy.
The second Congress met at Philadelphia, in 1791. During the first session, an act, laying a duty on domestic distilled spirits, produced considerable disturbance, and gave birth to lawless acts in the interior of Pennsylvania, called the "Whiskey Insurrection.”
Congress authorized the president to call out the militia, if necessary, to execute the laws; but Washington, unwilling to proceed to the adoption of this stringent measure, issued a proclamation, exhorting the insurgents to desist. But it failed to effect its purpose, and so formidable became the rebellion, that in August, 1794, a force of fifteen thousand men was called out, which soon quelled the insurrection, and the laws were enforced.
The second session of the second Congress was chiefly marked by a division of sentiment in Washington's cabinet, which gave him much trouble-Hamilton and Knox advising strong federal measures, while Jefferson and Randolph opposed them. The party in Congress, coincident in views with the latter, were denominated republicans by Mr. Jefferson, and this became for a time their party
* He selected for his cabinet, Thomas Jefferson, as secretary of state; Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury; Henry Knox, secretary of war; and Edmund Randolph, attorneygeneral. The office of secretary of the navy did not exist until the presidency of the elder Adams. The judiciary consisted of John Jay, chief justice of the supreme court; and John Rutledge, of South Carolina, James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, William Cushing, of Massachusetts, Robert H. Harrison, of Maryland, and John Blair, of Virginia, associates.
Unanimously chosen president a second time.
Arrival and conduct of Citizen Genet.
Much sympathy was felt by the Americans for the revolutionists in France, then lifting the curtain of the terrible drama which immediately followed, and Jefferson and his party were in favor of extending aid to them, while Hamilton and others (among whom was the president) dissented from these views, and sought to maintain the United States in a position of neutrality, especially as Great Britain was then at war with France.
Notwithstanding the violence of party feeling, when the time for the second presidential election arrived, and Washington had yielded to the earnest solicitations of his friends, and became a candidate for re-election, he received the unanimous vote of the electoral college; a signal proof of the esteem and veneration of the people. On the 4th of March, 1793, he was again inaugurated president, at Philadelphia.
Citizen Genet, a minister appointed by the newly-created French republic, arrived early in April, and at once sought to involve the United States in a war with Great Britain. He actually issued "letters of marque," or their equivalent, to armed vessels sailing from American ports, to cruise against the vessels of every nation inimical to France. Washington and his cabinet united in the opinion that it was the soundest policy for America to keep aloof from European politics; and accordingly, on the 18th of April, the president issued a proclamation of neutrality. This act greatly offended Genet, and he threatened to appeal to the people. His conduct became so obnoxious, that the pres ident demanded his recall, which demand was complied with, and M. Fauchet was appointed his successor.
The first change made in Washington's cabinet was in December, 1793, when Jefferson, after making his admirable report on the commercial relations of the United States with foreign nations, resigned the office of secretary of state, and was succeeded by Edmund Randolph.t On the 4th of January, 1794, Mr. Madison offered a series of resolutions in conformity with the report of Mr. Jefferson; and these, together with important topics in the president's message, occupied Congress in angry debates until the middle of April. A large portion of the people were favorable to France, and insisted that all friendly to that nation should wear the national cockade of that people. The neglect of England to fulfil some of the stipulations of the treaty of 1783, produced a very hostile feeling toward that country, and these things combined caused an asperity of party feeling here that has never been surpassed.
* M. Genet subsequently married a daughter of Governor George Clinton, and spent the remainder of his life in the United States. He is said to have introduced "democratic societies" into this country, in imitation of the jacobin clubs in Paris, but they both were of short duration.
† William Bradford, of Pennsylvania, was appointed attorney-general, to fill the vacancy caused by the promotion of Mr. Randolph.
Sends a special envoy to Great Britain. - Foul slanders uttered against the president.
The president, deeming war with Great Britain inevitable, sent John Jay a special envoy thither, but the terms of a treaty which he made (the best he could effect) were so favorable to Great Britain, that party feeling here was rather heightened than allayed.* But the president was warmly sustained by his friends, and the excitement against the treaty gradually subsided-not, however, without an exhibition of much acrimony toward the president by a few of the leaders of the opposition in Congress. Calumnies of the blackest character were unblushingly uttered. He was charged with violating the constitution in negotiating a treaty without the previous advice of the senate, and that he had drawn from the treasury, for his own private use, more than the salary allowed by the constitution! These atrocious charges (particularly the latter) fell lifeless at the feet of the utterers, for amid all the violence of party feeling, the people never suspected the integrity of the chief magistrate.t
During the summer of 1794, General Wayne made a successful campaign against hostile Indians on the northwestern frontier. Treaties were concluded with them, and, in conformity with stipulations in Mr. Jay's treaty, the British gave up several forts in that region, and a permanent peace appeared in prospect.
During the remainder of Washington's administration, the acrimony of party spirit was kept up, the opposition having succeeded in electing a majority of the house of representatives for the fourth Congress, which convened in December, 1795. The administration had a majority in the senate; and the president, unmoved by the clamor of the opposition, and the calumnies put forth, went steadily on in the path of official duty, and at every step elevated his country in the scale of national greatness.
M. Fauchet, the French minister, was succeeded by M. Adet, who arrived in June, 1795, bringing with him the flag of the French republic,‡ which, together with a letter from the "Committee of Public Safety,”
The treaty was signed in November, 1794, arrived in the United States on the 7th of March, 1795, and was ratified by the senate on the 24th of June following, by precisely the constitutional majority. Subsequently, a demand was made by the lower house upon the president, for copies of the papers connected with the treaty: but as that branch of the legislature had nothing to do with treaty-making, the president properly refused compliance. The opposition had a majority, and they raised a furious storm throughout the whole country; but when popular meetings were held, and the question fairly discussed, the views of the presi dent were sustained.
"When possessed of the entire fact," says Judge Marshall, "the public viewed with just indignation this attempt to defame a character which was the nation's pride. Americans felt themselves affected by this atrocious calumny on their most illustrious citizen, and its propagators were frowned into silence."
Mr. Monroe, the United States minister to France, had previously presented the American colors to that government, and they were placed with those of France in the hall of the national convention.