CHAPTER VIII. FEDERAL SUPREMACY (1793-1801).
The effect of the whole movement was to make it evident throughout the nation that the United States had at its disposal a military force sufficient to put down any ordinary insurrection. In his message on the subject on Nov. 19, 1794, Washington alluded to "combinations of men who have disseminated suspicions, jealousies, and accusations of the whole government." The Senate applied these words to "self-created societies." The allusion was to the Democratic clubs, founded in 1793 when Genet came to the country (sec. 84), and still in existence. The effect of Washington's criticism was to break down the societies and to check a movement which looked toward resistance to all constituted government. The opposition were compelled to take a less objectionable party name, and began to call themselves Republicans.
87. ELECTION OF JOHN ADAMS (1796).
[Washington retires.] [Nominations.]
On Sept. 17, 1796, Washington, in a public address, announced that he should not accept a re-election. The presidency had been irksome to Washington, and the personal attacks upon himself had grieved him; but he retired with the admiration and respect of the whole country. The selection of a successor at once became a party question. Jefferson, who had resigned the office of Secretary of State at the end of 1793, was the natural leader of the Republicans. John Adams, then Vice-President, had the largest Federalist following; but Hamilton hoped, by an electoral trick, to bring T. Pinckney, the candidate for Vice-President, in over his head. Adams candidly expressed his opinion of this intrigue: "That must be a sordid people indeed, a people destitute of a sense of honor, equity, and character, that could submit to be governed and see hundreds of its most meritorious public men governed by a Pinckney under an elective government."
[Adams and Jefferson.]
The danger was not, however, from Pinckney, but from Jefferson. When the votes were counted it was found that Adams had received the vote of the Northern States, with Delaware and a part of Maryland; but that Jefferson had received almost the whole vote of the South and of Pennsylvania. Adams became President by a vote of seventy-one, and Jefferson Vice-President by a vote of sixty-eight. The two men had been associated in early years, and were not unfriendly to each other. There was even a hint that Jefferson was to be taken into the cabinet. As soon as the administration began, all confidence between them was at an end. The same set of elections decided the membership of Congress to serve from 1797 to 1799; the Senate remained decidedly Federalist; in the House the balance of power was held by a few moderate Republicans.
Adams considered himself the successor to the policy of Washington, and committed the serious mistake of taking over his predecessor's cabinet. Hamilton retired in 1795; he had been replaced by his friend and admirer, Oliver Wolcott; the Secretary of State was Timothy Pickering of Pennsylvania: both these men looked upon Hamilton as their party chief. The administration began, therefore, with divided counsels, and with jealousy in the President's official household.
88. BREACH WITH FRANCE (1795-1798).
While the war-cloud with England was gathering and disappearing, new complications had arisen with France. The Jay treaty was received by that power as an insult, partly because it was favorable to her rival, partly because it removed the danger of war between England and the United States. In 1795 the first period of the Revolution was over, and an efficient government was constituted, with an executive directory of five. James Monroe, appointed minister to France, had begun his mission in September, 1794, just after the fall of Robespierre; he appeared in the National Convention, and the president of that body adjured him to "let this spectacle complete the annihilation of an impious coalition of tyrants." During Jay's negotiations he continued to assure the French of the friendship of America, although the Directory speedily declared that Jay's treaty had released France from the treaty of 1778. As Monroe made no effort to push the American claims for captured vessels, he was recalled in disgrace in 1796, and C. C. Pinckney was appointed as his successor.
Three weeks after his inauguration Adams received a despatch from Pinckney announcing that he had been treated as a suspected foreigner, and that official notice had been given that the Directory would not receive another minister from the United States until the French grievances had been redressed. A special session of Congress was at once summoned, and the President declared that "the action of France ought to be repelled with a decision which shall convince France and the world that we are not a degraded people, humiliated under a colonial spirit of fear and sense of inferiority." Headstrong behavior on the President's part would have immediately brought on war; but he had already made up his mind to send a special mission to France. In June, 1797, John Marshall and Elbridge Gerry, a Republican, but a personal friend of the President, were sent out to join Pinckney in a final representation.
[X. Y. Z. affair.]