페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

important subject; and at length a law was enacted, which is far less efficacious than the plan reported by the secretary of war, but which will probably not soon be carried into complete execution. It may well be doubted, whether the attempt to do more than to organize and arm the militia of a country under the circumstances of the United States, can ever be successful. Those habits of subordination, and of implicit obedience, which are believed to constitute the most valuable part of discipline, and the art of moving in an un. broken body, are perhaps to be acquired only in camp; and experience has not yet rendered it certain, that arrangements which aim at an object, by means unequal to its attainment, will yield a good proportioned to the burthen they impose.

CHAPTER XII.

;

General Washington attends to the foreign relations of the

United States. Negotiates with Spain. Difficulties in the way. The free navigation of the Mississippi is granted by a treaty made with Major Pinkney. Negotiations with Britain. Difficulties in the way. War probable. Mr. Jay's mission. His treaty with Great Britain. Opposition thereto. Is ratified." Washington refuses papers to the House of Representatives. British posts in the United States evacuated. Negotiations with France. Genet's arrival. Assumes illegal powers, in violation of the neutrality of the United States. Is flattered by the people, but opposed by the executive. Is recalled. General Pinkney sent as public minister to adjust disputes with France. Is not received. Washington declines a re-election, and addresses the people. His last address to the national legislature. Recommends a navy, a military academy, and other public institutions.

EVENTS, which had taken place before the inauguration of Washington, embarrassed his negotiations for the adjustment of the political relations between the United States and Spain.

In the year 1779, Mr. Jay had been appointed by the old congress to make a treaty with his Catholic majesty, but his best endeavours for more than two years were ineffectual. In a fit of despondence, while the revolutionary war was pressing, he had been authorised to agree "to relinquish, and in future forbear to use the navigation of the river Mississippi, from the point where it leaves the United States, down to the ocean. After the war was ended, a majority of congress had agreed to barter away, for twenty-five years, their claim to this navigation.— A long and intricate negotiation, between Mr. Gardoqui, the minister of his Catholic majesty, and the secretary of foreign affairs, had taken place at New York, in the interval between the establishment of peace, and of the new constitution of the United States; but it was rendered abortive by the inflexible adherence of Mr. Gardoqui to the exclusion of the citizens of the United States from navigating the Mississippi below their southern boundary. This unyielding disposition of Spain, the inability of the United States to assert their claims to the navigation of this river, and especially the facility which the old congress had shown to recede from it for a term of years, had soured the minds of the western settlers.— Their impatience transported them so far beyond the bounds of policy, that they sometimes dropped hints of separating from the Atlantic states, and attaching themselves to the Spaniards. In this critical state of things, the president found abundant exercise for all his prudence. The western inhabitants were, in fact, thwarting his views in their favour, and encouraging Spain to persist in refusing that free navigation, which was so ardently desired both by the president and the people. The adherence of Spain to the exclusive use of the lower Mississippi, and the impolitic discontents of the western inhabitants, were not the only embarrassments of Washington, in negotiating with the court of Madrid.

In 1793, four Frenchmen left Philadelphia, empowered by Mr. Genet, the minister of the French republic, to prepare an expedition in Kentucky against New Orleans. Spain, then at war with France, was at peace with the United States. Washington was officially bound to interpose his authority to prevent the raising of an armed force from amongst his fellow citizens, to commit hostilities on a peaceable neigh.

R

bouring power. Orders were accordingly given to the civi authority in Kentucky, to use all legal means to prevent this expedition ; but the execution of these orders was so languid, that it became necessary to call in the aid of the regular army. General Wayne was ordered to establish a military post at Fort Massac' on the Ohio, for the purpose of forcibly stopping any body of armed men, who, in opposition to remonstrances, should persist in descending that river.

Many of the high spirited Kentuckians were so exasperated against the Spaniards, as to be very willing to second the views of the French minister, and under his auspices to attack New Orleans. The navigation of the Mississippi was so necessary for conveying to proper markets, the surplusage of their luxuriant soil, tirat, to gain this privilege, others were willing to receive it from the hands of the Spaniards, at the price of renouncing all political connexion with the United States. While these opposite modes of seeking a remedy for the same evil, were pursuing by persons of differen't temperaments, a remonstrance from the irrhabitants of Kentucky was presented to Washington and congress:- This demanded the use of the Mississippi, as a natural right, and at the same time charged the government with being under the influence of a local poliey, which had prevented all serious efforts for the acquisition of a right which was essential to the prosperity of the western people. It spoke the language of an injured people, irritated by the mal-administration of their public servants, and hinted the probability of a dismemberment of the union, if their natural rights were not vindicatec? by government. To appease these discontents, to restrain the Cench from making war on the Spaniards, with a force ra sed and embodied in the United States, and at the same time, by fair negotiation, to obtain the free use of the Mississippi from the court of Madrid, was the task assigned to Washington.- Difficult and delicate as it was, the whole was accomplished. Anterior to the receipt of the Kentucky remonstrance, the president, well knowing the discontents of the interior people, and that the publication of them would obstruct his views, had directed the secretary of state to give assurances to the governor of Kentucky, that every exertion was making to obtain for the western people the free navigation which they so much desired. The strong

arm of government was successfully exerted, to frustrate the expedition projected by the French minister against New Orleans; and, while these matters were pending, Major Thomas Pinkney was appointed envoy extraordinary to the court of Madrid; and in the year 1795, he concluded a treaty with his Catholic majesiy, in which the claims of the United States, on the subject of boundary, and the navigation of the Mississippi, were fully conceded.-By these events, the discontents of the western people were removed. Tranquillity was restored between the Atlantic and the western states ; and all points in controversy between

the United States and Spain were satisfactorily adjusted. The most important of these, the free navigation of the Mississippi, had been the subject of discussion in the hands of different negotiators, for almost the whole of the immediately preceding fifteen years.

Great were the difficulties which Washington had to encounter, in amicably settling all matters with Spain ; but much greater stood in the way of a peaceable adjustment of various grounds of controversy between the United States and Great Britain.

Each of these two nations charged the other with a breach of the treaty of peace, in 1783; and each supported the charge against the other, with more solid arguments than either alleged in their own defence.

The peace terminated the calamities of war, but was far from terminating the resentments which were excited by it. Many in the United States believed that Great Britain was their natural enemy, and that her views of subjecting the United States to her empire, were only for the present suspended. Soon after the peace, Mr. John Adams had been deputed, by the old .congress, to negotiate a treaty between the United States and Great Britain ; but the latter declined to meet this advance of the former. While he urged on the court of Great Britain, the necessity imposed upon them by the late treaty, to evacuate their posts on the south side of the lakes of Canada, they retorted, that some of the states had, in violation of the same treaty, passed laws interposing legal liments to the recovery of debts due to British subjects.

Washington's love of justice was not weakened by parti.

а

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ality to his country. In a letter to a member of congress, he observed, “ It was impolitic and unfortunate, if not upjust, in those states to pass laws, which, by fair construction, might be considered as infractions of the treaty of peace. It is good policy, at all times, to place one's adversary in the wrong. Had we observed good faith, and the western posts had been withheld from us by Great Britain, we might have appealed to God and man for justice."

1. What a misfortune is it,” said he, in another letter,

66 “ that the British should have so well grounded a pretext for their palpable infractions; and what a disgraceful part, out of the choice of difficulties before us, are we to act!”

In the first years of Washington's presidency, he took in. formal measures to sound the British cabinet, and to ascertain its views respecting the United States To Mr. Gouverneur Morris, who had been carried by private business to Europe, this negotiation was intrusted. He conducted it with ability ; but found no disposition in the court of Great Britain to accede to the wishes of the United States. In about two years more, when the stability and energy of the government, as administered by Washington, became a matter of public notoriety, the British, of their own motion, sent Mr. Hammond, their first minister to the United States. This advance induced the president to nominate Mr. Thomas Pinkney, as minister plenipotentiary to the court of Great Britain.

About this time, a war commenced between France and Great Britain. The correct, sound judgment of Washington, instantly decided, that a perfect neutrality was the right, the duty, and the interest, of the United States ; and of this he gave public notice by a proclamation, in April, 1793. Subsequent events have proved the wisdom of this measure, though it was then reprobated by many. The war between the late enemies and friends of the United States, revived revolutionary feelings in the breasts of the citizens, and enlisted the strongest passions of human nature against the one, and in favour of the other.-A wish for the success of France was almost universal; and

many were willing to hazard the peace of their country, by taking an active part in the war in her favour. The proclamation was at variance with the feelings and the passions of a large portion of the citizens. To com.

« 이전계속 »