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ite. The dissatisfaction given by Jay to the partisans of France was therefore smothered, and yielded to the present object; and on the same day, the seventh of May, Jay in his absence, at the instance of Gerry, was elected to the foreign department; and with his concurrence, Jefferson, on the motion of a colleague from Virginia, was chosen to fill the vacancy in the commission.
An occurrence of this kind could not fail to produce a strong and lasting impression. A twelvemonth after, Massachusetts urged, through her delegates, a resolution that no member of congress should be appointed to any office during the term for which he was elected; and a provision was inserted in the federal constitution, which would seem to have had this case in view. It rendered a member of congress ineligible “ to any civil office that had been created, or the emolument whereof had been increased, during the time for which he was elected.”
Jefferson's commercial report was now again brought forward with some additions. Of these, the most important was, that these instructions should be considered as supplementary to those of October, seventeen hundred and eighty-three; that where the commissioners should be able to form treaties on principles in their judgment more advantageous to the United States than those of the report, they were permitted to adopt such principles, and that it would be agreeable to have supplementary treaties with France, Holland, and Sweden, which may bring the trea ties previously entered into, as nearly as may be to the principles now directed.
Numerous exceptions were taken to a treaty framed on the principle of these instructions, in a report* subsequently made to congress by the secretary of foreign affairs. These are to be regarded, not as exceptions to stipulations
Report of Jay.—2 D. C. 234.
of the most perfect equality and reciprocity in a particular treaty with any one nation, where the interest of the country might dictate them, but as exceptions to the establishment, at that time, of a general system of policy, excluding all discriminations or prohibitions, however their necessity might be indicated by peculiar circumstances. Jay thought that a system for regulating the trade of the United States should be framed and adopted before they entered into further treaties of commerce. Various reasons were given to show that it was inexpedient to make the conduct of the parties towards the most favoured nations, the rule of their conduct towards each other; among these, a principal one was, that the interchange of favours between the United States and a nation merely European, would probably be regulated by principles and considerations distinct, in a certain degree, from those which should regulate such an interchange between them and nations partly European and partly American.* There might, he said, exist reasons for freely granting to one nation what there might be no reason for granting to another. He also doubted the expediency of agreeing absolutely that any nation should be at liberty to bring and vend into the United States, all or any of their productions and manufactures without exception, because it might be necessary to prohibit the importation of some of them, either to check luxury, or to promote domestic manufactures.t
“We abstained," Jefferson observed, “ from making new propositions to others having no colonies, because our commerce being an exchange of raw for wrought materials, is a competent price for admission into the colonies of those possessing them; but were we to give it without price to others, all would claim it without price, on the ordinary ground of gentis amicis. sime.”—Jefferson's Works, vol. 1, p. 51.
† In the treaty which was the immediate subject of this report, one arti. cle precluded the laying an embargo. This was objected to, for a reason not easily disputed.
But one other topic of moment arrests attention in the proceedings of this congress. It related to the garrisoning of the frontier posts. The hostility evinced by New-York to the employment of continental troops for that purpose, has been previously mentioned. The expectation that the negotiation which was pending for the surrender of those posts would be successful, produced great anxiety in the councils of that state, and she urged, with extreme earnestness and pertinacity, a declaration by congress, in pursuance of the articles of confederation, of the number of troops necessary to be kept up by her for the protection of her frontier. This subject, though frequently presented to that body, was deferred from an apprehension of authorizing an individual state to maintain an armed force. To avoid this alternative, propositions were made in congress for the enlistment of a thousand men, to protect the commissioners recently appointed to hold treaties with the Indians, and to defend the frontiers.
The fate of these propositions is indicative of the tem-. per of the times. After repeated and laboured debates, a resolution was introduced by Gerry, proclaiming “ the danger of confiding to a body, which was already empowered to make foreign and domestic loans, and to issue bills of credit, that of raising standing armies;" and it was determined to discharge the few troops which had been retained in the service of the United States. The standing army was reduced to eighty men. No officer was retained of a higher rank than captain, and the western frontiers were to be protected by a requisition for a regiment of militia. The congress of the United States having, in virtue of the confederation, at the instance of Jefferson, chosen from its own body a “committee of the states," now adjourned.
This committee continued in session, though without effecting any thing, until the nineteenth of August, seventeen hundred and eighty-four, when some of the members withdrawing, without the consent of their colleagues, it broke up, without the decency of an adjournment, in clamorous confusion, leaving the nation without any representative council.
The congressional year of their successors commenced on the first of November, of the same year, but a quorum was not formed until the succeeding month. Its history is alike barren of interest; the few subjects upon which it acted, until the latter part of its session, being the organization of a court to adjudicate upon the territorial controversy which existed between the states of Massachusetts and New-York; measures for the adjustment of a similar dispute between South Carolina and Georgia; the appointment of commissioners to treat with the southwestern tribes of Indians ; the selection of a site for a federal city, and an ordinance defining the power and duties of the secretary at war. These being arranged, a decision was made upon a matter of permanent importance—the mode of disposing of the western territory. Much discussion on this subject had occurred during the previous congress. An ordinance was now passed, “ the result of compromise, not such as was desired, produced by the utmost efforts of public argument and private solicitation."
A provision for the current service gave rise also to frequent deliberations, which were concluded by a vote on the report of the grand committee of congress, a short time before the termination of its political existence. By this vote a requisition was made upon the states for three millions of dollars, of which two-thirds were receivable in certificates for interest on the liquidated debts ;, which amount was intended not only to meet the demands of the year, but also the balance of the estimate which the preceding congress had omitted to require. An earnest recommendation was made for the completion of the measures for raising revenue, proposed in the spring of the preceding year, as preferable to any other system, “ and necessary to the establishment of the public credit."
* From a letter of William S. Johnson, a man of a probity and talent as eminent, and views as comprehensive, as were those of his distinguished fa. ther.