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tons, were permitted to enter the British ports in the West Indies, with cargoes from the United States; and there was not so fair and full reciprocity relating to commerce as was justly desired. It was certainly far preferable to war; and seldom, indeed, are either the prosperity or welfare of a nation advanced by that last resort; for the effect would have been the ruin of commerce, and an immense public debt, which would have distracted and oppressed the people for many generations.
Meetings were held in many seaports in the United States, and the terms of the treaty reprobated even by those who had before approved the measures of the President; and who were entirely disconnected with the secret societies, which had most unjustly condemned all the public acts of the administration. But these hasty expressions against the treaty, before it was published, and when its terms were greatly misrepresented by a few disaffected individuals, were soon succeeded by a loyal acquiescence in the great body of the people, who became satisfied that it would operate more favorably than was at first apprehended; and especially on learning that it was approved and confirmed by the Senate, the constitutional branch of the government, whose prerogative it is, united with the President, to form treaties with foreign nations.
There were serious objections to several articles of the treaty with the Senate; and after eighteen days consideration it was conditionally accepted, and that only by the constitutional majority. After this opinion of the Senate, the President took several weeks to reflect on the subject, before he gave his consent to its ratification. And then a strong memorial against the British order, subjecting to seizure all articles of provision, destined to French ports, was prepared to accompany the communication of the
approval of the treaty. T'he British order was revoked, and the ratification by that government followed. The Secretary of State, Mr. Randolph, was opposed to the treaty; but the other members of the Cabinet advised to its acceptance, with a remonstrance against the order relating to provisions.
But though the treaty, made with Great Britain, by Mr. Jay, was accepted by the Senate and President, and, therefore, so far as it extended, had become the law of the land, and an obligation imposed to fulfil its conditions by Congress, great efforts were made to prevent the execution of some of its provisions on the part of the United States. Appropriations' were necessary to be made by the legisla
ture, for carrying into effect certain Acts, stipulated to be performed on the part of the federal government. These appropriations were opposed, at the hazard of violating the treaty, and of thus giving occasion for just complaint by the British Ministry. It was said by the opposition, that there was no other method of preventing the operation of a treaty, made by the President and Senate, of the most injurious or dishonorable terms, but in the refusal of the Representatives to make the appropriations required : and as the popular branch of the government, they ought to have a voice in such a case. But it was urged, by the friends of the administration, that the Constitution gave the treaty-making power exclusively to the President and the Senate; and that, is a treaty, duly ratified by them, were disregarded, and any omissions to fulfil its provisions, deliberately sanctioned by another branch of the government, the character of the nation must greatly suffer; and no faith, no security could be justly given to a foreign power, for the observance of any treaty or compact entered into with the United States. After a long and angry discussion of the subject, in which the President did not escape equally unjust and dishonorable reproaches, as the enemy of republican freedom, and the secret friend of monarchy, the necessary appropriations were made by a vote of a small majority ; several who were opposed to the treaty, and desirous of a close alliance with France, even at the hazard of a war with Great Britain, joining with the friends of the administration, from convictions of the bad faith which might otherwise be charged on the nation.
This was considered highly honorable to the opposition, and gave evidence that party feelings did not govern on all occasions. Had the motion prevailed which was offered for withholding the appropriations required by the treaty, the consequences would have been most disastrous to the United States.* It would have provoked England to retaliating and hostile measures, of incalculable injury to America; and shown to the rulers of revolutionary France, that the federal government was to be the servile instrument of their will. T'he long established character of the President for patriotism, and his decision and firmness, at this
* Mr. Ames, of Massachusetts, spoke in favor of appropriations for carrying the treaty into effect, with surpassing power and eloquence; and probably produced an influence with several members of the House to support the measure. With a clear head and a pure mind, he could not but perceive both the moral and political obligations of fulfilling the conditions of the treaty.
critical period, saved the American Republic from a contest, which her liberties probably would not have survived.
This unhappy division among the citizens of the United States continued, with more or less of opposing views, on political measures, for a long period. As in all parties, there were no doubt honest and patriotic individuals in each great division; and some who were unduly influenced by selfish considerations, or strangely governed by their prejudices. Those charged with a preference for monarchy, or with a desire to join with England to put down the rulers in France, were no doubt, unjustly accused. They were sincere republicans: they had exhibited the strongest proofs of their attachment to civil liberty, by their personal services and sacrifices. But they were alarmed by the extravagant conduct of the French nation, and had great reason to fear danger to the republican institutions of the United States, if the levelling doctrines advocated in that country should prevail in this. And it would be equally uncandid perhaps to suppose, that all those who were opposed to the measures recommended by Washington, and who expressed a strong sympathy in favor of France, were enemies of their own country, and would rejoice to see its government overturned. They had, indeed, mistaken notions of republican freedom, and laid less stress on the importance of constitutional authority and a settled order of political affairs than was proper, especially at that period of dangerous innovation and misrule. When such characters as Washington, and his associates in power, at that period, whose lives have given the strongest proof of devotion to liberty, and to their country's welfare, do not inspire confidence and secure support to government, there can be no stability in a republic; and political power will soon fall into the hands of the selfish and unprincipled.
The depredations on the Commerce of the country, by the Dey of Algiers, as well as the importance of providing protection for the interests of those engaged in navigation, liable as they were to injurious treatment from the nations of Europe then at war, led to a proposition for increasing the naval force of the United States. The administration was decidedly in favor of the measure; and the President had recommended the subject to Congress, early in 1794. There was, however, great opposition to it, on account of the expense, and it would be impossible, in a short time, to prepare a navy, which would be adequate for defence and protection against such powerful nations as Great Bri
tain or France. It was the opinion and policy of some statesmen, then high in public estimation, that it would be unwise to attempt to create and maintain a navy sufficient to coerce the maritime powers of Europe, or to defend the United States from their depredations : and that it would be most for the security and prosperity of the United States, for the citizens to confine their labors to agriculture, and to allow all trade with foreign countries to be conducted by their own vessels. But a law was passed in 1795, for the building of three frigates, which was far less of a naval armament, however, than had been contemplated by the administration.
An additional law was enacted in 1795, on the subject of naturalizing foreigners or aliens, who came into the United States with the intention of becoming permanent citizens. A longer period of residence was now required than by a former law on the subject; and a formal notice was made necessary before a Court of Record, with an oath to support it, of the intention or desire of any one to become a citizen, three years previously to his admission. And five years residence was required of those thereafterwards coming into the United States, as well as an oath to support the federal Constitution, and a solemn renunciation of allegiance to all foreign States and governments. Only two years residence was made necessary for those already in the United States; but it was required of all that they relinquish any hereditary title, or order of nobility, which they might have borne in the country from which they came.
In 1802, under the administration of Mr. Jefferson, the provisions of this law were modified, so as to facilitate the naturalization of aliens who desired to become citizens of the United States.
At this comparatively early period of the federal government, there were some instances of defalcation in public officers who were collectors and receivers of the national
but very few indeed, had then occurred ; and a law was passed by Congress to hold all such officers to a frequent and strict accountability to the treasury department. On any delinquency in such officers, it was made the duty of the Comptroller to require a settlement of their accounts; and if a prompt compliance did not follow, to institute legal prosecutions against the defaulters. Had such a course been continued, with fidelity and energy, by the government through the high officers in the treasury department, many millions would probably have been saved to the nation. It was early recognized as an important
principle in the American republic, that the agents for collecting and receiving the public monies should account therefor at short and stated periods.
The subject of “internal improvements," so far as related to post roads, was discussed in February, 1795, but not so fully as at a later period ; and no formal opinion of Congress was expressed, so as to be a precedent for future appropriations for such purposes. A survey for a route to convey the mail from Maine to Georgia, was proposed by Mr. Madison ; but it does not appear that his opinion was settled in favor of the constitutionality of the measure; for he did not urge it; and he admitted that the
would be very great. He said it was the commencement of an extensive work; and he did not wish to decide at that time. Several other members spoke in approbation of the measure, as one highly conducive to the public convenience. Appropriations of the public funds for such an object, or for a great national road, like the Cumberland, designed to facilitate the travel from the Atlantic to the western section of the United States, have been advocated since, by those opposed to internal improvements for sectional objects, and such as would be local or partial in the conveniences they would afford. It is matter of surprise that there should have been any question as to necessary post roads.
The first session of the fourth Congress continued till June, 1796, and was then adjourned to the first Monday of December following. Besides the proceedings of the national legislature, already noticed, other important acts were passed, giving improvement and stability to the federal government, for doing justice and maintaining peace with other nations. Trading houses were established, and agents appointed, to reside in the western territory, near the Indian tribes, with a view to maintain a friendly intercourse with them, and to prevent individuals from all fraudulent and improper treatment of them. Provision was also made for the sale of the public lands in that part of the country. An act was passed for the protection and relief of American seamen. The military establishment was augmented, and fixed for the term of three years; and further provision was made for the reduction of the national debt.
But such were the prejudices and party feelings, then unhappily prevailing, that the best efforts of the President and his Cabinet were opposed, or misrepresented. The charges formerly brought against the administration as being more friendly to the monarchy of England, than to