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plans and views of the Secretary of the Treasury, and of War, more correct for vindicating the honor and welfare of the United States, than those of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison. General Knox, the Secretary of War, had no unpleasant collisions with, nor personal jealousies of the Secretary of State, b:it he had perfect confidence in the patriotism and wisdom of the President.
In April, 1794, the President nominated to the Senate, John Jay, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, as Envoy Extraordinary to the Court of London ; and he expressed his opinion to that body, that the crisis demanded such a measure—that he had no want of confidence in the minister from the United States then near the British Courts, (Mr. Pinckney of South Carolina,) but that a special Envoy might have an additional influence with the government of England; and that if he were unsuccessful in his efforts to preserve peace, and to induce that nation to do justice to the United States, the duty of a resort to force, in defence of our rights, would be manifest to the world, and that but one opinion would prevail among the American people on the subject.
In addition to the reasons for such a mission, to which reference has already been made, a peace had taken place, by the advice and influence of the British ministry, between Portugal and the Dey of Algiers—and the vessels of the latter were thus at leisure to depredate on the commerce of the United States. They took several vessels belonging to American citizens, confiscated the cargoes, and imprisoned the crews, or obliged them to work in their gallies. So jealous were many persons in the United States, at that period of the inimical disposition of England towards this country, that they attributed the peace between Algiers and Portugal to a design in the British Cabinet to harass and distress the navigation and trade of America. This, however, was disavowed by the British ministry, and probably was not a premeditated plan. But no one who was impartial in his feelings, could hesitate to acknowledge, that the Court of London was disposed to find a plea for imposing restraints on the commerce of the United States, whether it were in friendship to other nations, or from hatred to France, with which it was at war.
In the dispute with Spain at this period, the interests of the United States, especially of the western parts, on the Mississippi, were deeply involved; and the citizens of the newly formed State of Kentucky, complained that their rights were not duly regarded by the government. They
meditated an attack on the Spanish settlements on that river; to which they were instigated or encouraged by M. Genet, the French minister. They were even more unreasonable in their complaints, and more precipitate in their movements than the people of Maine, at a very recent period. They resolved on the enterprise, and made preparations to conduct it, without consulting the federal executive; thus hazarding the peace of the United States for their own peculiar interest
. Efforts had long been previously but unsuccessfully made to forrn a treaty with Spain, respecting the bounds between her territory on the Mississippi and the United States. In 1794, Mr. Pinckney, then resident minister at the British Court, was sent to Madrid, and in a few months agreed on a treaty with the Spanish government, which was accepted and exchanged in 1795, by which the controversy was happily adjusted, and the free navigation of the Mississippi was secured to the citizens of the United States.
The dangers, which then threatened the United States, both from England and France, neither of which discovered a friendly, or conciliating spirit towards this country, had induced the President to recommend measures for defence, should the exigency unfortunately occur to make such preparation proper. During the first session of the third Congress, and in April, May, and June, 1794, several acts were passed for this purpose. The depredations on commerce were so great, that an embargo was laid in April, for the term of thirty days; and at the expiration of that period, for thirty days more. And before Congress adjourned, which was in June, a law was passed authorizing the President to impose and revoke embargoes, during the recess of the federal legislature, and to extend only fifteen days after the beginning of the next session. An Act of Congress was passed at this session, for raising seven hun· dred and sixty officers and privates, for artillery and engineer corps, should the executive please to adopt such a
And the President was also authorized to call on the Governors of the several States for the militia, if circumstances should render it necessary for the defence of the country, to the number of eighty thousand in the whole. But it was provided, that each State executive or authority should appoint the officers of the militia. Authority was likewise given the President to repair and erect fortifications at various points on the Atlantic seaboard, from Portland to Savannah, and sixteen places were named for that purpose.
He was further empowered to build or
purchase ten vessels of war for defence. An augmentation of duties on some imported goods was laid at this session; and an excise on pleasure carriages ; on the retail of winé and foreign distilled spirits; and on sales at auction. By this Congress also, an act was passed in June, declaring it to be a crime against the United States, with heavy penalties annexed, for any citizen to accept and exercise a commission to serve a foreign Prince or State, in war, by land or sea ; or for any person, within the territory or jurisdiction of the United States, to enlist or enter himself, or to hire or retain another person to enlist and enter himself in the service of any foreign Prince or State; or to convey him beyond the limits of the United States, so to enlist and enter on board any vessel of war, privateer, &c. The fitting out of vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States, or giving commissions to persons to command them, which were intended to commit depredations, on other nations or subjects thereof, were also constituted crimes or high misdemeanors. While the bill for this purpose was before Congress, it met with warm and powerful opposition from those who were friendly to the French nation, and wished to unite the destiny of the United States and France in the great cause of liberty, and who had disapproved of the neutral policy of the President. In several stages of the passage of the bill, the number in the Senate against was the same as that for it, and was decided by the vote of the Vice President, who is allowed to give a vote only when the Senate is divided on any question. The bill was at last passed by his casting vote; and, but for a singular circumstance, the vote would have been against it by a majority of one. *
Before M. Genet, the French minister, was recalled, besides other highly improper acts, as interfering with the measures of the President, directing the arming
of vessels in the ports of the United States, and giving commissions to persons to command them, to capture British vessels ; he projected an attack on the Spanish territory and settlements on the Mississippi, and instigated a number of the citizens of the Union to engage in the enterprise without any authority from the federal government, and at the direct hazard of a war with Spain. He sent agents to the new State of
* Mr. Gallatin was then a Senator from Pennsylvania. But his seat was declared vacant a very short time before the vote on the bill ; it having been objected and proved that he had not been a citizen of that State for the number of years required by the Constitution.
Kentucky, with directions to raise men to go against New Orleans, and other places in possession of Spain, whose title to the river and country adjacent was then undisturbed. The people of Kentucky readily promised to engage in this unlawful expedition; and the Governor of the State, with most of the public men, encouraged the hostile project. They presented a petition to the President, and requested aid from the regular army; and when this was declined, they complained of him as unfriendly to the liberties of the people, and insisted that the federal government ought to dispossess the Spanish by force, and demand the free navigation of the Mississippi by the citizens of the United States. They had caught the disorderly spirit of the French minister, from his agents, sent among them; and seemed resolved to involve the country in war with Spain, by invading her rightful territories. The cares and anxiety of the President were much increased by this strange conduct; but his united firmness and prudence put a stop to the projected enterprise, and averted a war with the Spanish nation.
The opposition to the act of Congress, for an excise or duty on distilleries and on spirits distilled in the United States, had now been manifested in the northwestern counties of Pennsylvania, for two years; and notwithstanding the proclamation of the President, and other measures, short of military force, which had been adopted, to warn the people against all further attempts or threats to prevent the execution of the law, the conduct of the discontented became more and more violent, accompanied by resolutions publicly made, that the excise should not be collected, and that they would oppose all efforts on the part of the federal government, to carry the law into operation. The President issued a second proclamation, to prevent, if possible, the further disorderly acts of the discontented, and to leave no suitable measure untried on his part, to preserve the peace of the community. But in his firm resolution to sustain the law and to support the authority of the government, he did not waver or hesitate. As authorized by an act of Congress, agreeable to a clause in the Constitution to call out the militia to execute the laws of the Union, he made requisition for twelve thousand men, and soon after for fifteen thousand, on the Governors of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, to be in readiness for marching at his command, to quell any insurrectionary force which might appear to oppose the due operation of
the laws.* Still, a preliminary measure of a pacific character was adopted, which was the appointment of commissioners, to be joined by such others as should be selected by the Governor of Pennsylvania; who should proceed to the discontented counties, offer pardon for past disorders, and confer with a committee from the disaffected citizens, for the purpose of terminating the opposition, which had disgraced the character of the nation, and threatened to destroy entirely the authority of the general government.
The second session of the third Congress was began and holden at Philadelphia in November, 1794, the time fixed by law before the adjournment in June of that year. The speech of the President to Congress on this occasion, referred particularly to the insurrection in Pennsylvania, and to executive measures for suppressing it. The constitution makes the President of the United States Commander in Chief of the militia when called into the service of the Union; and in this capacity, he had visited the places of general rendezvous, to obtain full and correct information, that his future movements with the militia might be the most proper and efficient. While he found among some of the people a spirit inimical to all law and order, he was gratified, he said, to observe the alacrity and promptitude with which the citizens generally came forward to assert the dignity of the laws; thereby furnishing an additional proof that they understood the true principles of government and liberty, and were convinced of their inseparable union. But let the people, he added, "persevere in their patriotic vigilance over that precious depository of American happiness, the Constitution of the United States. And when, in the calm moments of reflection, they shall have retraced the origin and progress of the insurrection, let them determine whether it has not been fomented by combinations of men, who, careless of consequences, and disregarding the unerring truth, that those who arouse cannot always stay a civil convulsion ; have disseminated, from an ignorance or per
This act of Congress for calling out the militia to execute the laws of the Union, &c. provided that the President might employ the militia of other States, if the militia of the State wherein the combination and opposition existed, should refuse, or be found insufficient. It also provided as a preliminary to a call for the militia in such cases, that an associate justice, or a judge of the district court, should certify, that there was an opposition to the due execution of law, which could not be suppressed without employing the militia. The President was duly certified, that such was then the fact ; and it was also represented to him that the aid of militia from neighboring States would be necessary. The expense of suppressing this insurrection was $ 1,100,000.