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Genet was at last got rid of, but the evil that he did lived after him. His presence had provoked an outbreak, to some degree, of the phenomena of the French Revolution, which, however significant they might be in the upheaval of an old monarchical despotism, were an unwholesome growth among a simple people, where one man was as good as another before the law; where, from the first settlement of the country, all had largely possessed the advantages of a popular government; and where any other than a republican government for the future was wellnigh impossible. For men to address each other as "citizen," as if the word had the new significance in America that it had just gained in France; to swear eternal fidelity to liberty, equality, and fraternity, as if these were lately discovered rights which had been denied the common people for centuries by kings and nobles, who had always lived in the next street in inconceivable luxury wrung from the blood and sweat of the poor; to form Jacobin clubs pledged to the suppression of the tyranny of aristocrats in a country where, as Samuel Dexter said of New England,[208] there was hardly a man rich enough to own a carriage, and few so poor as not to own a horse; for men thus to ape those revolutionary ways, which meant so much in Paris, may have seemed at the moment, to sober-minded people, more fantastic than harmful. It was harmful, however, insomuch as it substituted sentiment for common sense, and made enthusiasm, not reason, the guide of conduct. A character was given to political conflict which obtained for years to come. There was, it is true, a certain manliness about it in remarkable contrast with that maudlin sentimentality of our time which is rather inclined to ask pardon of the rebels of the late civil war for having put them to the trouble of getting up a rebellion. It was a conflict, nevertheless, more of party passion than of principle, wherein it is impossible to see that either party was absolutely right, or either absolutely wrong. The Francomania phase of it disappeared for a time in John Adams's administration; but it revived again, and gave intensity and virulence to the political struggles, in the first decade of this century. Then it was that men went about their daily affairs with cockades on their hats as distinctive party badges. In their social as well as in their business relations they were governed by party affinities. Neighbors differing in politics would hardly speak to each other, and each was always ready to accept the other's political crookedness as the measure of his possible depravity in everything else. They would hardly walk on the[209] same side of the street; or sail in the same packet; or ride in the same stage-coach; or buy their groceries at the same shop; or listen to the preaching of the gospel from the same pulpit; indeed, if the preacher was known to have pronounced political opinions, he was held, by those who did not agree with him, as one from whose shoulders the clerical gown should be torn.

Gratitude to France had not yet even become traditional, and it was intensified by the deepest sympathy for a people struggling for what, by their aid, Americans had so recently gained. Added to this was the old hatred to England, which England as carefully nursed as if it were her settled policy, by exciting Indian hostilities on the borders, by outrages on the high seas, and by an interference with American commerce, exercised with as little consideration of the rights of an independent nation as if the States were still colonies in revolt. Never did a party find, ready made and close at hand, so many elements of popularity; and these being appealed to as Genet appealed to them, it was easy to set the country in a blaze. When the administration was determined that he should be recalled, and the Republican leaders were anxious to get rid of him, as they could not restrain him, Jefferson opposed, in a meeting of the cabinet, the proposition to ask for his recall, lest such popular indignation should be aroused as would enable the French minister to defy the government itself. The seed sowed by such a man, on such a soil, bore fruit a[210] thousand fold for almost a generation. It is not to be wondered at that the Federalists could not long hold their own against a party that did not ask the people to think, but bade them only to remember—much, indeed, that ought to be remembered—and to feel. That is always so much easier to do than the other, and it is always so much easier to appeal effectually to sentiment than to reflection, that the wonder rather is that the Federalists could hold their own so long as they did. All things were against them but one. Washington, though altogether above any partisan bias, as he believed to be the imperative duty of the chief magistrate of the nation, conducted his administration by the principles which distinguished the Federalists. He was neither, as he intimated to Jefferson, so careless as not to know what was done, nor such a fool as not to understand why it was done; and so greatly was he revered for his exalted character, so universal was the confidence in his integrity, sagacity, and sound judgment, that, so long as he remained President, the party that surrounded him was immovable as a mountain. His policy was to stave off a rupture with England, and, if possible, to bring that power into pacific and rational relations with the United States. The government aimed to keep itself clear of entanglement with all foreign politics; to maintain that perfect neutrality which should violate no treaties, offend no national friendships, provoke no jealousies, and leave England and France to fight their own battles, content[211] that the United States should be an impartial spectator. Thirty years afterward, when the Federal party had ceased to exist under that title, this was announced as the true American policy, and was thenceforth known as "The Monroe Doctrine," though the merit, even of re-discovery, did not belong to President Monroe.

In nine cases out of ten, perhaps in ninety-nine out of a hundred, the wisest statesmanship is the knowledge when and how to compromise. Certainly that was all John Jay, whom the President sent to England to make a treaty, could do. The treaty was a bad one; that is, it was not such an one as any President and Senate would have dared to consent to for the last sixty years; it was not so good an one as that which Monroe and Pinkney negotiated ten years later, and which President Jefferson, lest it should help England and hurt France, then quietly locked up in his desk without permitting the Senate even to know of its existence; nor was it so bad as the treaty of peace made with England in 1814. But it was undoubtedly the best that could be done at the time. The question was between it and nothing; and the best its warmest defenders could say was that it was better than nothing. No treaty meant war; and war at that moment with England meant ruin. At least so the Federalists thought, and, so far as human foresight could go, they were probably right.

But never was a treaty more unpopular than[212] this, when its provisions came to be understood. The government, in delaying to make it public, seemed to fear for its reception, and by that hesitation helped to raise the very doubts it was afraid of. But when it was published the whole South was aroused as one man on finding that the payment for fugitive slaves, who during the war of the Revolution had sought refuge with the British army, was not provided for. Other concessions made to England were, in other parts of the country, deemed not less humiliating and injurious to the national honor than this refusal to pay for runaway negroes. Also, there was a one-sided stipulation relating to commerce in the West Indies, so injurious to American interests that the President and Senate, rather than ratify it, determined to reject the whole treaty and take the consequences. There was hardly a town of any note that did not hold its indignation meeting. Jay was burned in effigy, or the attempt was made so to express the public disapprobation, in more than one of the larger towns. Hamilton, when at a public meeting in New York he tried to explain and defend the treaty, was stoned and compelled to retire. If the more violent opponents of the administration were to be believed, its members, from the President down, and all the leading men of the party supporting it, were bought by "British gold," or were ready without being bought, but from pure original depravity, to betray their own country and help to destroy France. The name of[213] the ingenious inventor of the argument of "British gold," then used for the first time, has unfortunately been lost; but it has stood the test of a hundred years' usage, and is as startling and conclusive to-day as it was a century ago.

There soon came, however, the sober second thought which took into consideration the circumstances under which the treaty was made, the possible and even probable consequences of its rejection, as well as the objections to the treaty itself. After the first excitement had passed away, many thought it worth while to read for themselves what hitherto they had only reviled at the suggestion of others, or from sympathy with the popular clamor. The commercial community, the New York Chamber of Commerce leading the way, came to the conclusion that their rights and interests were reasonably protected; that to be recognized as a neutral between two such belligerent powers as England and France was a great point gained; that partial indemnity was better than total loss; and that the chance of a fairly profitable trade in the future was preferable to the ruin of all foreign commerce. It was universally agreed that peace was better than war; but there was this difference between the two parties: while one maintained that war was not a necessary consequence of the rejection of the treaty, the other declared it must be inevitable, where there were so many points of collision which could only be escaped by mutual agreement. This was especially[214] true on the frontier, where Indian hostilities were sure to follow, and lead to general war, if the military posts, which should have been given up at the close of the Revolution, should remain longer in the hands of the English.

But, after all, the real question with the Republicans was the influence which a treaty with England might have upon the relations of France and the United States. They detested England for her own sake; they detested her still more for the sake of France. If there had been no question of France in the way they would, perhaps, have been willing, like the Federalists, to consider the relations of England and the United States on their merits,—to remember that the commerce between them was greater than that which the United States had with any other country, the loss of which might be a disastrous check to her prosperity; that the peoples of the two countries were, after all, of one blood, and that theirs was a common heritage in the institutions, laws, language, and character that distinguished the race; that the quarrel between them was—though it might be the more bitter on that account—a family quarrel, and ought for that reason to be the more speedily settled. But, if England would not remember these things,—as she never has to this day,—if, on the contrary, she chose to be overbearing, contemptuous, insolent, quite regardless of American rights,—as she always has been when she could be so safely,—then it behooved the United States,[215] inasmuch as she was a young and as yet a feeble nation, to conciliate this powerful enemy whenever she could do so consistently with her self-respect, to avoid giving unnecessary offense or provoking fresh injuries, and, in the mean while, to nurture and husband her strength, to keep an accurate account of all the wrongs that in her weakness she should be compelled to submit to, and to bide her time. These were the principles of the Federalists. Their aim was, not the good of England, but the good of the United States. They were an American party; to them foreign relations were of importance mainly for the influence these might have upon the prosperity, happiness, and power of their own country. They did not forget the gratitude due to France for the aid she had given to the struggling colonies, though that aid was given not so much for love of America as for hatred of England. The pacific and friendly relations already established with France they held in due estimation; and their sympathies went out to her people in full measure in their struggle for a popular government, so long as that struggle was kept within the bounds of reason and humanity. But sympathy with and gratitude to France did not blind them to the wisdom and expediency of pacific and friendly relations with England, provided such could be established without the sacrifice of their own prosperity, independence, and national pride. It was only to add to that prosperity, to gain new security for that independence, and to build up a[216] nation of which they and their children, to the latest generation, might well be proud, that they ought to be on good terms with that powerful state with whom they were co-heirs in all the ideas and institutions constituting the civilization that made her great. They hoped to build up, west of the Atlantic Ocean, "an Inglishe Nation" in its broadest sense, of which Walter Raleigh had hoped that he might live to see the beginning, and which the latest historical writers in England are just now recognizing as the most important part of the modern empire of the English race.

The House of Representatives was not in session when the Jay treaty was ratified by the President and Senate, but Mr. Madison's letters show that he could see in it nothing but evil. In February, 1796, the ratification by both governments was announced to both houses of Congress, and measures were at once taken by the Republicans in the lower house to render the treaty, if possible, null and void. A resolution, warmly supported by Mr. Madison, was offered, calling upon the President for copies of the instructions under which Mr. Jay acted, with the correspondence and any other papers, proper to be made public, relating to the negotiation. The resolution was subjected to a debate of three weeks, but was finally passed. The request was refused by the President, on the ground that the treaty-making power was, by the Constitution, confided to the President and Senate. It was on this point mainly[217] that the debate had turned; and the President, in support of his opinion as well as that of the Federalists generally, referred to his recollection of the plain intention of the Constitutional Convention, and to the fact that a proposition, "that no treaty should be binding on the United States which was not ratified by law," was "explicitly rejected." Mr. Madison said a day or two after, that, while he did not doubt "the case to be as stated, he had no recollection of it." Of the message itself, he said that it was "as unexpected as its tone and tenor are improper and indelicate." But Hamilton, he thought, wrote it, and the President was, as usual, lamented over for having been taken in. A resolution, however, was finally passed in favor of the treaty, though by a majority of three only. The debate upon it was earnest and long, Mr. Madison leading the opposition. His disappointment was bitter. "The progress of this business throughout," he wrote to Jefferson, "has been to me the most worrying and vexatious that I ever encountered; and the more so, as the causes lay in the unsteadiness, the follies, the perverseness, and the defections among our friends, more than in the strength, or dexterity, or malice of our opponents."

Though the Jay treaty was not—as was said on a previous page—such an one as the United States would have acceded to in latter times, the result proved it to be a wise and timely measure. Notwithstanding the disturbed condition of affairs[218] in Europe, its influence upon the United States, and the increasing violence of faction here, the increase for the next ten or twelve years of the commerce, and the consequent growth and prosperity, of the country were greater than the most sanguine supporters of the treaty had dared to hope for. Their immediate expectations that it might be possible to establish better relations with England, without disturbing essentially those existing with France, were, however, signally disappointed. Their opponents were wiser; for they not only measured accurately the indignation of the French by their own, but they took good care that it should not languish for want of encouragement. The French Directory might have been reconciled to the situation had it been plain to them that there was neither an "Anglicized" party nor a French party in the United States, but that the people were united in the determination to maintain, for their own protection, whatever their personal sympathies might be, an absolute neutrality between the belligerent powers. But as they were assured that their friends in America meant also to be their effectual allies, so they believed that those who professed neutrality used it only as a mask for friendship to England.

James Monroe had been received in Paris as American minister, literally as well as morally, with open arms, in that memorable scene when, in the presence and amid the cheers of the National Convention, the president, Merlin de Douai, im[219]printed upon his cheeks, in the name of France, the kiss of fraternity. Till he was recalled in the latter days of Washington's administration, Monroe was the representative not so much of the government to which he owed allegiance as of the faction to which he belonged at home. He was not, it is true, unmindful of the hundreds of outrages perpetrated by French naval vessels and privateers upon American merchantmen; that their crews were thrown into French prisons, and that the detention of their cargoes had brought ruin upon many American citizens; nor did he neglect to demand redress. But he seemed absolutely incapable of understanding that if there were anything to choose between the insults and wrongs which America was compelled to submit to from England and France, it was only in the greater ability of England to inflict them. English ships swept the ocean, and pretexts were never wanting for overhauling American vessels, stripping them of some of their men, or confiscating both ships and cargoes. France had as many pretexts, and quite as good a will to enforce them; but she had fewer ships, and for that reason, and that only, did rather less damage.

But however earnest Monroe was in insisting upon the rights of neutrals, in urging upon the French ministry the strict observance of treaty obligations, and in complaining of the constant injuries done in their despite, there was another thing about which he was far more earnest. He[220] was as anxious to aid the French to baffle, if possible, Jay's negotiations in London as if he were uncovering a plot against his own government. When the ratification of the treaty was made known in Paris, the indignation of the Directory was hardly kept within bounds. The minister of foreign affairs notified Monroe that the Directory considered the stipulations of the treaty of 1778 as altered and suspended in their most essential parts by this treaty with England. Under any circumstances the French would, no doubt, have resented the establishment of friendly relations between the United States and the old enemy of France, with whom she at that moment was engaged in a war arousing more than the bitter inherited enmity of the two peoples. But the course Monroe had seen fit to pursue had done much to assure the French that the strong party in the United States, which he represented, would never permit the virgin republic to be delivered, as it was assumed the treaty did deliver her, bound and gagged, into the hands of the power which Jefferson loved to call "the harlot England." The first enthusiasm of the Revolution was fast growing into cant in both countries, and the language of devotion to liberty, equality, and fraternity was beginning to lose all meaning. But it was easy to be deceived by the assurances, more significant in actions than in words, of an official representative, that the American people, save an Anglicized and decreasing minority, were the friends, and meant[221] to be the allies, of France. Of course the French were all the more exasperated because they had permitted themselves to be deluded. Monroe was first rebuked by his own government for neglecting to do all that might have been done to reconcile the Directory to a treaty between the United States and Great Britain; and soon after, his conduct continuing unsatisfactory, he was recalled.

It is, of course, possible that the French Directory were not misled; that nothing would have reconciled them to the British treaty; and that their subsequent course would have been the same had they believed the American people were desirous to be on good terms with England solely for their own tranquillity and interest, and not at all because any large portion of them were at enmity with France. This, however, would not be a valid excuse for Monroe's course as a representative of his government. The only defense for him is, that he was deceived by his friends at home; they must share, therefore, the responsibility for his conduct, inasmuch as they encouraged a man not over strong in mind or character, and more likely to be governed by impulse than by good judgment, to abuse the confidence placed in him by the administration.

From any share in this responsibility, however, Madison must be relieved. He was in very constant correspondence with Monroe, and kept him carefully advised as to the progress of the treaty. No man desired its defeat more earnestly than he,[222] and he believed that a majority of the people were opposed to it. But he evidently doubted its rejection from the first, and his discussion of possibilities in his letters to Monroe was always frank and discriminating. In the end he accounted for the vote in its favor in the House of Representatives by the activity and influence of its friends, which its opponents wanted the ability or the time to overcome. It is probable that his colleagues of his own party in the House did not agree with him that public opinion was against the treaty, as it was by votes from their side that its acceptance was carried.
D P Madison D P Madison

With the ensuing session of Congress, at the close of Washington's administration, Madison's congressional service ended. The leadership of the opposition, whatever may be thought of its influence upon the welfare of the country, or of the personal motives by which he may have been governed, had devolved upon him, almost from the beginning, by natural selection of the fittest for that position. It was not an easy place to take, either by one's own choice or by the suffrages of others; for at the head of the administration to be opposed stood the man most revered by a grateful country, surrounded by men among those, at least, who were best known for their past services and most esteemed for their ability and character. It was the more difficult for one whose personal relation to the President was that of the warmest friendship; to whom the President was accustomed[223] to turn for counsel and even for guidance; and who, being among those eminent men to whom the people owed their new Constitution, was counted upon to strengthen the union of the States and build up a strong and stable government. He played his difficult part, nevertheless, with dignity; if not brilliant, he was always ready with the best reasons that could be given for the measures he supported; and his zeal was invariably tempered with a wise moderation and a courtesy toward opponents which made him always respected, and sometimes feared for reserved force, in debate.

Somewhat more than a year before his retirement from Congress Mr. Madison had married, and it is quite possible that this may in part have moved him to seek rest in the tranquillity of a country life. Tradition says that Mrs. Madison was a beautiful woman. She has in our time been a marked figure in the society of Washington, and many remember her for her fine presence, her powers of conversation, and that beauty which sometimes belongs to the aged, though it may not have been preceded by youthful comeliness. Her maiden name was Dolly Payne, and her parents were members of the Society of Friends. When Madison married her she was Mrs. Todd, the widow of John Todd, a lawyer of Philadelphia. Her age at this time was twenty-six years, Mr. Madison being forty-three, and she survived him thirteen years, dying in 1849. On her tombstone she is called "Dolley;" but Mr. Rives, in his life[224] of her husband, ever mindful of the proprieties, calls her "Dorothea," or rather, Mrs. Dorothea Payne Madison; for, like the Vicar of Wakefield, he loved to give the whole name.


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