Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

privateering. Two. vessels were fitted out and engaged in this lucrative business. The progress of Genet to Philadelphia was an ovation. He was received with enthusiasm at every point. Delegations of citizens met him and delivered flattering speeches. His self-importance was largely exalted, and led him into acts which were not consistent in the representative of a country nominally at peace with a power hostile to France. The brig Little Sarah was equipped and fitted out as a privateer, aster being christened the Little Democrat. Promise was made by Genet that she would not depart until questions regarding her status were decided. A few days later she dropped down the river and was gone. Then was promulgated by Mr. Jefferson the doctrine that was followed years later in the case of the rebel vessel Alabama. He informed M. Genet that the United States would assume the responsibility for the compensation of owners of any prizes taken by the Little Democrat, "the indemnification to be reimbursed by the French government.

Genet continued his efforts to inflame the passions of the people against Great Britain, and engaged in fitting out other privateers at Philadel. phia and New York. He also attempted to organize an expedition against the Spanish possessions at New Orleans. The west had long been anticipating an attack in this quarter in order to gain free navigation of the Mississippi. Fortunately, no overt act was committed, else the country might have become embroiled in a costly and disastrous war with Spain. The President finally decided to request the recall of M. Genet. This took considerable time, all of which was employed by the latter in the manner he deemed best for his interests and the interests of his government. In due time he was recalled, and the French government disavowed his proceedings. On the revocation of his commission, M. Genet, who was at the time in New York, married a daughter of Governor George Clinton, and ever after remained a citizen of that state, dying at Jamaica, Long island, in 1834.

In February, 1792, at a conference with the President regarding the post-office, Mr. Jefferson expressed his intention to resign from the cabinet and retire to the quiet of his home at Monticello, where he would be free to follow those pursuits most congenial to his mind. President Washing. ton had determined to withdraw from the cares of office at the close of his term, but urgently requested Mr. Jefferson to reconsider his determination to resign, saying he felt the state department to be the most important under the government, and that his services were imperatively needed for some time to come. Mr. Jefferson finally decided that he would remain for the time, though he was determined on retirement at no distant day. The salary paid the secretary of state was inadequate to his support, and he had a debt of thirteen thousand dollars hanging over his head, which had in a manner been paid long before. This debt related to the estate derived by Mrs. Jefferson from her father, and was due an English gentleman. Mr. Jef

ferson, with the intention of discharging this obligation, had sold a valuable tract of land just before the beginning of hostilities, but had used the coin procured for that purpose in the equipment of soldiers for the war, the state of Virginia agreeing to pay the debt after peace should be declared. This it repudiated, and instead paid Mr. Jefferson dollar for dollar in the almost valueless paper money of the time, which had become so depreciated that the sum he received barely paid for an overcoat. The raid of Cornwallis and Tarleton destroyed property aggregating more than the debt, but he felt in honor bound to its payment in full. Thus he had valid reasons for resigning

Though he had long contemplated retirement from the cabinet, his friendship for the President and a desire to give him all the aid in his power, caused him to forego his own convenience until near the close of Washington's first term. A second time, in August, he subdued his inclinations and remained at his post. Finally, December 31st, he addressed the President a note inclosing his resignation. He had arrived at the point where he couid no longer sacrifice his private interests even to those of his country. For a period during the troublous times following the declaration of war betweer England and France, he had suffered contumely and neglect because of his supposed sympathy with the people of France, the interest cí the moneyed aristocracy being centered in the British trade.

But the publication of a pamphlet by the government giving in full the course pursued by him in the discussion of international questions with Edmund Genet, the French minister, and George Hammond, the representative of England, placed these questions in a new light. Besides, the ability he had previously shown and the influence he continually exerted for his country's good, could not be effaced from the public mind. He retired from office covered with honor, his character for integrity unimpeached, and the prejudice of his opponents dissipated.

[ocr errors][merged small]

CHAPTER V.

ELECTED VICE PRESIDENT.

D

URING a period of more than twenty-five years, Mr. Jefferson hans

served the country faithfully, both at home and abroad. His visits to Monticello had been few and brief, his opportunities for overseeing his farms, and the occasions afforded for the enjoyment of his daughters' society, limited. He now returned to find much of the cultivated portion of his estate in very bad condition. The management of overseers had nearly wrought ruin. Crops had been raised year after year until the soil was exhausted, when the cultivated portion was allowed to grow up to a wilderness of evergreens and bushes, and a new tract was cleared for cultivation. The growth of tobacco for many years in succession had so reduced the fertile bottoms that they were incapable of producing one-fourth of a crop of corn or wheat. He still had a large quantity of unbroken land. Of his estate of more than ten thousand acres, but about two thousand were under cultivation. He immediately instituted measures of reform in the system of cultivation, and himself took the burden of management. The manor house was incom. plete, and he extended and added to it until it approached his ideal of a home. He had studied the theory of beautifying the landscape, and his years of foreign travel and residence had brought to his notice the principles of art as applied to adornment. The ideas his observing mind had retained were incorporated into the development of the artistic in the surroundings of Monticello. The result obtained was the combination of art and nature in such a manner that it was almost impossible to decide where the one began and the other ended.

To say that he was not ambitious would ill accord with his course after retirement from the cabinet. For several years Monticello was head. quarters of the republican party. Its owner was intimate with members of Congress from Virginia, Kentucky, and other southern states. Among his

most frequent guests and highly esteemed friends were Mr. Madison, Mr. Monroe, and Mr. Giles. Here was continued the opposition to the federalist policy that had marked his course in the cabinet, and here were developed plans for the advancement of the republican party. From here were directed the attacks of the opposition journals, and from the pen of Jefferson emanated many of the bills and resolutions introduced into Congress. The term of Washington as President was nearly ended. The republican party took decisive steps in announcing their candidate for the succession, and that candidate was Thomas Jefferson. Whether he was opposed to this plan can not now be known, but he at least silently acquiesced in the move ment. Washington declined re-election to a third term, and the contest lay between Jefferson and Adams. Washington had been the popular candidate of all classes, and no element of politics had e::tered into his election. But the time for a change had arrived. The terms federalist and republican had been bestowed upon the two diverse organizations. During this period of political excitement Mr. Jefferson remained quietly at his home, superintending his farm; it is to be presumed doing much in the councils of his party, though writing but one political letter—to Mr. Madison—during the campaign. The mode of deciding the Presidential election was different from that followed at the present time. The candidates were John Adams and Thomas Pinckney, on the part of the federalists; Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, on that of the republicans. The vote in the electoral college of 1796 stood for Mr. Adams, seventy-one; for Mr. Jefferson, sixty-eight; for Mr. Pinckney, fifty-nine; for Mr. Burr, thirty; for Samuel Adams, fifteen; for Oliver Ellsworth, eleven; for John Jay, five; for George Clin. ton, seven ; and ten scattering votes among five candidates. Mr. Adams receiving the greatest number of votes was declared President. Thomas Jefferson received the next largest number and was chosen Vice President Mr. Adams received the entire vote of his state-Massachusetts—and Mr. Jefferson received the same compliment from Virginia. Jefferson's defeat was undoubtedly caused by some feeling engendered during his connection with the cabinet of Washington, in which many of his acts had received severe criticism.

It was believed by many, and ardently hoped by some, that he would decline the second place in the government. To prove to all that he would not refuse the honor conferred upon him, he undertook a winter journey to Philadelphia, for the purpose of presiding at the special session of the Senate, which was not likely to occupy more than one day. In a letter to his friend Mr. Madison, he particularly requested that he be made no part in a parade or ceremony. He arrived at Philadelphia the 2d of March, and notwithstanding his wishes for a quiet entrance, a body of militia was expecting him, and he was received with a thundering salute from artillery ; the militia escorted him through the streets bearing a banner er

which were inscribed the familiar words, “Jefferson, the friend of the people.” He made an early call upon the President-elect, at his lodgings, which was returned the following morning. During this interview Mr. Adams mentioned his desire to send an immediate mission to France, and that his mind had reverted to Mr. Jefferson as the most proper person to perform that mission, but he doubted if the Constitution would permit the sending of the Vice President on a foreign mission. He therefore proposed three others, Mr. Gerry, Mr. Madison, and Mr. Pinckney. Mr. Jefferson replied that his inclination would not permit of his again representing the govern. ment at a foreign court, and concurred in the view of Mr. Adams as to its impropriety in the present instance. In compliance with Mr. Adams' request, he conferred with Mr. Madison regarding his acceptance of the appointment, which was declined.

The oath of office as Vice President, and president of the Senate, was administered by William Bingham, president pro tempore of that body, Saturday, March 4, 1797, and immediately Mr. Jefferson addressed the mem. bers thereof. He then conducted the Senate to the hall of the House of Representatives, where the ceremony of inducting the President into office was to take place. The retiring President, George Washington, was received with cheers, which were repeated when Mr. Adams entered. After the inaugural address had been delivered, the chief justice administered the oath of office to Mr. Adams in clear tones, which were repeated with emphasis. The President then took his seat, but soon arose and left the hall, bowing to the assembly as he did so. Washington and Jefferson arose at the same moment, and the Vice President awaited the retirement of the chief, but Washington declined to take precedence, and followed Jefferson, the cheers of the multitude attending them.

The following Monday both dined with General Washington ; both departed from his house at the same moment, and together they walked down the street toward their respective residences. During the walk Mr Jefferson informed the President of the declension by Mr. Madison, of the office of commissioner to the court of France. Mr. Adams evinced some embarrassment when the matter was broached, and stammered excuses regarding the appointment of Mr. Madison, until the point was reached where their ways diverged, when he bade his companion a hasty adieu. The thing that troubled him was made plain. He had attended a meeting of his cabinet that day, and had there met the followers of Hamilton, who were ready to determine that no member of the republican party should be allowed an important office under the new government, threatening to resign in case the President did not accede to their wishes. Mr. Adams weakly yielded, doing, however, that which was in accord with the principles and wishes of the great majority of his party. He never afterward consulted the Vice President in any measures connected with his administra

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »