Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

public distrust, though not enough to convey a distinct idea of the merits of the instrument. In fact, the people were predisposed to condemn, because vexed that any overtures had been made towards a negotiation, such overtures having been stigmatized as cowardly and degrading. If it had been necessary to send a minister to England, said they, it should have been to make a downright demand of reparation for wrongs inflicted on our commerce, and the immediate surrender of the Western posts.

In the meantime Jay arrived on the 28th of May, and found that during his absence in Europe he had been elected governor of the State of New York; an honorable election, the result of no effort nor intrigue, but of the public sense entertained by his native State of his pure and exalted merit. He, in consequence, resigned the office of Chief Justice of the United States.

In the course of this month arrived Mr. Adet, who had been appointed by the French government to succeed Mr. Fauchet, as minister to the United States. He brought with him the colors of France, which the convention had instructed him to present as a testimonial of friendship, in return for the American flag which had been presented by Mr. Monroe.

The presentation of the colors was postponed by him for the present.

The Senate was convened by Washington on the 8th of June, and the treaty of Mr. Jay was laid before it, with its accompanying documents. The session was with closed doors, discussions were long and arduous, and the treaty underwent a scrutinizing examination. The twelfth article met with especial objections.

This article provided for a direct trade between the United States and the British West India Islands, in American vessels not exceeding seventy tons burden, conveying the produce of the States or of the Islands : but it prohibited the exportation of molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa, or cotton, in American vessels, either from the United States or the Islands, to any part of the world. Under this article it was a restricted intercourse, but Mr. Jay considered the admission even of smaller vessels, to the trade of these Islands, an important advantage to the commerce of the United States. He had not sufficiently adverted to the fact that, among the prohibited articles, cotton was also a product of the Southern States. Its cultivation had been recently introduced there; so that when he sailed for Europe hardly sufficient had been raised for domestic consumption, and at the time of signing the treaty, very little. if

any, had been exported. Still it was now becoming an important staple of the South, and hence the objection of the Senate to this article of the treaty. On the 24th of June two thirds of the Senate, the constitutional majority, voted for the ratification of the treaty, stipulating, however, that an article be added suspending so much of the twelfth article as respected the West India trade, and that the President be requested to open, without delay, further negotiation on this head.

Here was a novel case to be determined. Could the Senate be considered to have ratified the treaty before the insertion of this new article? Was the act complete and final, so as to render it unnecessary to refer it back to that body? Could the President put his final seal upon an act before it was complete? After much reflection, Washington was satisfied of the propriety of ratifying the treaty with the qualification imposed by the Senate.

In the meantime the popular discontent which had been excited concerning the treaty was daily increasing. The secrecy which had been maintained with regard to its provisions was wrested into a cause of offense. Republics should have no secrets. The Senate should not have deliberated on the treaty with closed doors.

Such was the irritable condition of the public mind, when on the 29th of June, a Senator of the United States (Mr. Mason of Virginia), sent an abstract of the treaty to be published in a leading opposition paper in Philadelphia.

The whole country was immediately in a blaze. Beside the opposition party, a portion of the cabinet was against the ratification. Of course it received but a faltering support, while the attack upon it was vehement and sustained. The assailants seemed determined to carry their point by storm. Meetings to oppose the ratification were held in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charleston. The smaller towns throughout the Union followed their example. In New York, a copy of the treaty was burnt before the governor's house. In Philadelphia it was suspended on a pole, carried about the streets, and finally burnt in front of the British minister's house, amid the shoutings of the populace. The whole country seemed determined, by prompt and clamorous manifestations of dissatisfaction, to make Washington give way.

He saw their purpose; he was aware of the odious points of view on which the treaty might justly be placed ; his own opinion was not particularly favorable to it; but he was convinced that it was better to ratify it, in the manner the Senate had advised, and with the reservation already mentioned, than to suffer matters to remain in their present unsettled and precarious state.

Before he could act upon this conviction a new difficulty arose to suspend his resolution. News came that the order of the British government of the 8th of June, 1793, for the seizure of provisions in vessels going to French ports was renewed. Washington instantly directed that a strong memorial should be drawn up against this order ; as it seemed to favor a construction of the treaty which he was determined to resist. While this memorial was in course of preparation, he was called off to Mount Vernon. On his way thither, though little was said to him on the subject of the treaty, he found, he says, from indirect discourses, that endeavors were making to place it in all the odious points of view of which it was susceptible, and in some which it would not admit.

The proceedings and resolves of town meetings, also, savoring as he thought of party prejudice, were forwarded to him by express, and added to his disquiet. Party disputes are now carried to such a length,” writes he, "and truth is so enveloped in mist and false representation, that it is extremely difficult to

« AnteriorContinuar »