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An act was passed authorizing the President to accept the services of thirty thousand volunteers, should they, in his judgment, be needed. The salt tax was repealed; the Mediterranean fund was continued; appropriations were made for the coast survey, and to reward Lewis and Clark for their journey of exploration to the Pacific.
On the 19th of February, the President announced that the terms of a treaty had been agreed on with England, and that our Minister in France had been officially informed that the declaring of the British Islands in a state of blockade (the Berlin decree of November 21, 1806) would not extend to Ameri
The ninth Congress expired on the 3d of March, 1807.
The President's private letters, during the late session, which demand our notice, are few. In one to Charles Clay, January 11th, we catch a glimpse of Mr. Jefferson's private pecuniary
"Yours of December 19th has been duly received, and I thank you for your friendly attention to the offer of lands adjoining me for sale. It is true that I have always wished to purchase a part of what was Murray's tract, which would straighten the lines of the Poplar Forest, but I really am not able to make a purchase. I had hoped to keep the expenses of my office within the limits of its salary, so as to apply my private income entirely to the improvement and enlargement of my estate; but I have not been able to do it."
On the 13th of January he wrote his "dear and ancient friend," John Dickinson; and the letter contains that groan which breaks sooner or later from the bosoms of all who wield official power and patronage:
"I have tired you, my friend, with a long letter. But your tedium will end in a few lines more. Mine has yet two years to endure. I am tired of an office where I can do no more good than many others, who would be glad to be employed in it. To myself, personally, it brings nothing but unceasing drudgery and daily loss of friends. Every office becoming vacant, every appointment made, me donne un ingrat, et cent ennemis. My only consolation is in the belief that my fellow citizens at large give me credit for good intentions. I will certainly endeavor to merit the continuance of that good-will which follows well-intended actions, and their approbation will be the dearest reward I can carry into retirement."
An embarrassment of the Administration in the 9th Con gress, had been the want of a recognized and competent leader. There were able young men, and sensible and experienced older
ones in the House; but no individual appeared to combine all the qualities requisite for the position. To supply this deficiency, Mr. Jefferson wrote Wilson C. Nicholas (February 28th), desiring him to become the successor of T. M. Randolph, who had determined to retire on account of ill health, and an increasing distaste for Congressional life. Mr. Nicholas consented, was elected, and though not a brilliant or remarkably fluent man, possessed experience, tact, and popular manners, combined with sound ability and sense, and a steady attention to business. He, therefore, well filled the place assigned to him.
THE NEW ENGLISH TREATY.
The new English treaty negotiated by Messrs. Monroe and Pinkney, was received on the last day of the session of the late Congress, from the British Minister at Washington, Mr. Erskine. It did not, in material particulars, meet the views of the President. The termination of impressments had been one of the main objects of the negotiation. Learning in January (1807), that on some partial and informal promises of the British negotiators, Monroe and Pinkney were on the point of signing a treaty containing no stipulations on this head, the Government forwarded formal instructions to them (February 3d), to make no treaty which did not provide against impressments, informed them that such a one, if already made, could not be ratified, and that they would be expected at once to resume negotiations to supply the omitted article. It unfortunately turned out that a treaty with this omission had actually been signed on the 31st of December preceding. Nor was this all. It was accompanied by a declaration on the part of the British ministers that their Government reserved the power of departing from its stipulations in favor of our rights as a neutral, if the United States submitted to an invasion of those rights from France.
The President wrote Mr. Monroe that the treaty could not be ratified. After mentioning the instructions on the subject of impressment, he added:
"We observed, too, that a written declaration of the British commissioners,
1 He succeeded Mr. Merry on the accession of the Grenville Ministry.
In other words, submitted to the celebrated "Berlin decree" of Bonaparte (Nov. 21st, 1806), declaring the British Islands in a state of blockade, made in retaliation for the British order in council (May 16th, 1806), declaring the coast of France and Ger many, from Brest to the Elbe, in a state of blockade.
given in at the time of signature, would of itself, unless withdrawn, prevent the acceptance of any treaty, because its effect was to leave us bound by the treaty and themselves totally unbound. This is the statement we have given out, and nothing more of the contents of the treaty has ever been made known. But depend on it, my dear sir, that it will be considered as a hard treaty when it is known. The British commissioners appear to have screwed every article as far as it would bear, to have taken everything and yielded nothing. Take out the eleventh article, and the evil of all the others so much overweighs the good, that we should be glad to expunge the whole. And even the eleventh article admits only that we may enjoy our right to the indirect colonial trade, during the present hostilities. If peace is made this year, and war resumed the next, the benefit of this stipulation is gone, and yet we are bound for ten years, to pass no non-importation or non-intercourse laws, nor take any other measures to restrain the unjust pretensions and practices of the British. But on this you will hear from the Secretary of State. If the treaty cannot be put into acceptable form, then the next best thing is to back out of the negotiation as well as we can, letting that die away insensibly; but, in the meantime, agreeing informally, that both parties shall act on the principles of the treaty, so as to preserve that friendly understanding which we sincerely desire, until the one or the other may be disposed to yield the points which divide us."
In conclusion, he informed Monroe, that the course proposed would leave him to "follow his desire of coming home as soon as he saw that the amendment of the treaty was desperate." In that case, Mr. Pinkney, he remarked, could procrastinate negotiations, "and give us time, the most precious of all things to us." He offered Monroe the governorship of Orleans, which he said he considered, at that period, "the second office in the United States in importance."
That the President allowed Congress to disperse without placing the treaty before the Senate-in other words, that he rejected it without consulting the coördinate branch of the treaty-making power-was the subject of many criticisms among a party which had newly learned to be jealous of Executive encroachments. But if the President had fully made up his mind that he would not assent to the treaty, it is difficult to discover what object there would have been in spending the time of the Senate, and the money of the people, in deliberating over an instrument which could under no circumstances go into effectwhich was already practically dead.
The President proved to England that his action was dictated by no hostility towards herself, by continuing by proclamation, the suspension of the Non-Importation Act. It appears from his correspondence of the period, that every member of his
Cabinet concurred in his views in respect to the treaty. He wrote the Secretary of State, April 21st:
"As on a consultation when we were all together, we had made up our minds on every article of the British treaty, and this of not employing their seamen was only mentioned for further inquiry and consideration, we had better let the negotiations go on, on the ground then agreed on, and take time to consider this supplementary proposition. Such an addition as this to a treaty already so bad would fill up the measure of public condemnation. It would, indeed, be making bad worse. I am more and more convinced that our best course is, to let the negotiation take a friendly nap, and endeavor in the meantime to practise on such of its principles as are mutually acceptable. Perhaps we may hereafter barter the stipulation not to employ their seamen for some equivalent to our flag, by way of convention; or, perhaps, the general treaty of peace may do better for us, if we shall not, in the meantime, have done worse for ourselves. At any rate, it will not be the worse for lying three weeks longer."
The following letter to Mr. Bowdoin, then in France, exhibits the tone of the representations which were to be made in other foreign quarters:
"You heard in due time from London, of the signature of a treaty there between Great Britain and the United States. By a letter we received in January, from our ministers at London, we found they were making up their minds to sign a treaty, in which no provision was made against the impressment of our seamen, contenting themselves with a note received in the course of their correspondence, from the British negotiators, assuring them of the discretion with which impressments should be conducted, which could be construed into a covenant only by inferences, against which its omission in the treaty was a strong inference; and in its terms totally unsatisfactory. By a letter of February the 3d, they were immediately informed that no treaty, not containing a satisfactory article on that head, would be ratified, and desiring them to resume the negotiations on that point. The treaty having come to us actually in the inadmissible shape apprehended, we, of course, hold it up until we know the result of the instructions of February 3d. I have but little expectation that the British Government will retire from their habitual wrongs in the impressment of our seamen, and am certain, that without that, we will never tie up our hands by treaty, from the right of passing a non-importation or nonintercourse act, to make it her interest to become just. This may bring on a war of commercial restrictions. To show, however, the sincerity of our desire for conciliation, I have suspended the Non-Importation Act. This state of things should be understood at Paris, and every effort used on your part to accommodate our differences with Spain, under the auspices of France, with whom it is all important that we should stand in terms of the strictest cordiality. In fact, we are to depend on her and Russia for the establishment of neutral rights by the treaty of peace, among which should be that of taking no persons by a belligerent out of a neutral ship, unless they be the soldiers of an enemy. Never did a nation act towards another with more perfidy and injustice than Spain has constantly practised against us : and if we have kept our hands off of her till now, it has been purely out of respect to France, and from the value we set on the friendship of France. We expect, there
fore, from the friendship of the Emperor, that he will either compel Spain to do us justice, or abandon her to us. We ask but one month to be in possession of the city of Mexico."
The spring elections of 1807 exhibited an increase of Republican strength. That party now elected their Governor in Massachusetts, which gave them all the State executives, as well as legislatures, except in Connecticut and Delaware.
In the letter to Bowdoin, just quoted, the President spoke as follows of Burr's approaching trial:
"Hitherto we have believed our law to be, that suspicion on probable grounds was sufficient cause to commit a person for trial, allowing time to collect witnesses till the trial. But the judges here have decided, that conclusive evidence of guilt must be ready in the moment of arrest, or they will discharge the malefactor. If this is still insisted on, Burr will be, discharged; because his crimes having been sown from Maine, through the whole line of the western waters, to New Orleans, we cannot bring the witnesses here under four months. The fact is, that the Federalists make Burr's cause their own, and exert their whole influence to shield him from punishment, as they did the adherents of Miranda. And it is unfortunate that Federalism is still predominant in our judiciary department, which is consequently in opposition to the legislative and executive branches, and is able to baffle their measures often."
Burr arrived at Richmond, in custody, on the 26th of March, and was delivered over to the civil authorities and brought before Judge Marshall for examination. After hearing a three days' argument, the Chief Justice decided not to "insert in the commitment the charge of high treason," but only that of misdemeanor. The prisoner was admitted to bail in the sum of ten thousand dollars for his appearance at the next circuit court of the United States for the Virginia district, to commence at Richmond on the 22d of May
He had been received by the Federalists in the capital of Virginia as a political martyr. His sureties were highly respectable members of that party. Public and individual demonstrations of sympathy were abundantly and in some instances. conspicuously exhibited.
After Burr was held to bail, one of his counsel, Mr. Wickham-a very distinguished lawyer of Richmond-made a dinner party, and among his guests, and sitting at the same table, were seen the Chief Justice of the United States and Aaron Burr, who was soon to be tried before him for a misdemeanor, and