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Washington's Anxiety about the Progress of the Ne
gotiation with England-Jay's Treaty Arrives for Ratification-Predisposition to Condemn-Return of Jay–Adet Succeeds Fauchet as Minister frcm France—The Treaty Laid before the Senate-Ratified with a Qualification-A Novel Question-Popular Discontent-Abstract of the Treaty PublishedViolent Opposition to It-Washington Resolved to Ratify–His Resolution Suspended-Goes to Mount Vernon-Reply to an Address from Boston-Increasing Clamor.
ASHINGTON had watched the prog
ress of the mission of Mr. Jay to England, with an anxious eye.
He was aware that he had exposed his popularity to imminent hazard, by making an advance toward a negotiation with that
power ; but what was of still greater moment with him, he was aware that the peace and happiness of his country were at stake on the result of that mission. It was, moreover, a mission of great delicacy, from the many intricate and difficult points to be discussed, and the various and mutual grounds of complaint to be adjusted.
Mr. Jay, in a letter dated August 5, 1794, had informed him confidentially, that the ministry were prepared to settle the matters in dispute upon just and liberal terms; still, what those terms, which they conceived to be just and liberal, might prove when they came to be closely discussed, no one could prognosticate.
Washington hardly permitted himself to hope for the complete success of the mission. To "give and take,” he presumed would be the result. In the meantime there were so many hot heads and impetuous spirits at home to be managed and restrained, that he was anxious the negotiation might assume a decisive form and be brought to a speedy close. He was perplexed too, by what, under existing circumstances, appeared piratical conduct, on the part of Bermudian privateers persisting in capturing American vessels.
At length, on the 7th of March, 1795, four days after the close of the session of Congress, a treaty arrived which had been negotiated by Mr. Jay, and signed by the ministers of the two nations on the 19th of November, and was sent out for ratification.
In a letter to Washington, which accompanied the treaty, Mr. Jay wrote: “To do more was impossible. I ought not to conceal from you that the confidence reposed in your personal character was visible and useful throughout the negotiation."
Washington immediately made the treaty a close study; some of the provisions were perfectly satisfactory ; of others, he did not approve; on the whole, he considered it, a matter, to use his own expression, of "give and take," and believing the advantages to outweigh the objections, and that, as Mr. Jay alleged, it was the best treaty attainable, he made up his mind to ratify it, should it be approved by the Senate.
As a system of predetermined hostility to the treaty, however, was already manifested, and efforts were made to awaken popular jealousy concerning it, Washington kept its provisions secret, that the public mind might not be preoccupied on the subject. In the course of a few days, however, enough leaked out to be seized upon by the opposition press to excite