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of getting it was to build up the Atlantic States and bind them, with their established resources, to the settlers over the mountains. This done, time would do the rest; and the sequel showed that he was right. A little more than a year after he came to the presidency he wrote to Lafayette:
Gradually recovering from the distresses in which the war left us, patiently advancing in our task of civil government, unentangled in the crooked politics of Europe, wanting scarcely anything but the free navigation of the Mississippi, which we must have, and as certainly shall have, if we remain a nation," 1 etc.
Time and peace, sufficient for the upbuilding of the nation, that is the theme everywhere. Yet he knew that a sacrifice of everything for peace was the surest road both to war and ruin. Peace must be kept; yet war was still the last resort, and he was ready to go to war with the Spaniards, as with the Indians, if all else failed. But he did not mean to have all else fail, nor did he mean to submit to Spanish insolence and exactions. The grievances of the pioneers of the West were to be removed, if possible, by treaty, and if that way was impossible, then by fighting.
Carmichael, who had been minister at Madrid under the confederation, had been continued there by the new government. But while the intrigues of Spain to detach Kentucky, and the interference and exactions of Spanish officials, went on, our
1 The italics are mine.
negotiation for the settlement of our rights to the navigation of the Mississippi halted. Tired of this inaction, Washington, late in 1791, united William Short, our minister to Holland, in a commission with Carmichael, to open a fresh and special negotiation as to the Mississippi, and at the same time a confidential agent was sent to Florida to seek some arrangements with the governor as to fugitive slaves, a matter of burning interest to the planters on the border. The joint commission bore no fruit, and the troubles in the West increased. Fostered by Genet, they came near bringing on war and detaching the western settlements from the Union, so that it was clearly necessary to take more vigorous measures.
Accordingly, in 1794, after Genet had been dismissed, Washington sent Thomas Pinckney, who for some years had been minister in London, on a special treaty-making mission to Madrid. The first results were vexatious and unpromising enough, and Pinckney wrote at the outset that he had had two interviews with the Duke de Alcudia, but to no purpose. It was the old game of delay, he said, with inquiries as to why we had not replied to propositions, which in fact never had been made. Even what Pinckney wrote, unsatisfactory as it was, could not be wholly made out, for some passages were in a cipher to which the State Department had no key. Washington wrote to Pickering, then acting as Secretary of State: “A kind of fatality seems to have pursued this nego
tiation, and, in short, all our concerns with Spain, from the appointment of Mr. Carmichael, under the new government, as minister to that country, to the present day. Enough, however, appears already to show the temper and policy of the Spanish court, and its undignified conduct as it respects themselves, and insulting as it relates to us; and I fear it will prove that the late treaty of peace with France portends nothing favorable to these United States." Washington's patience had been sorely tried by the delays and shifty evasions of Spain, but he was now on the brink of success, just as he concluded that negotiation was hopeless.
He had made a good choice in Thomas Pinck. ney, better even than he knew. Triumphing over all obstacles, with persistence, boldness, and good management, Pinckney made a treaty and brought it home with him. Still more remarkable was the fact that it was an extremely good treaty, and conceded all we asked. By it the Florida boundary was settled, and the free navigation of the Mississippi was obtained. We also gained the right to a place of deposit at New Orleans, a pledge to leave the Indians alone, a commercial agreement modeled on that with France, and a board of arbitration to settle American claims. All this Pinckney obtained, not as the representative of a great and powerful state, but as the envoy of a new nation, distant, unknown, disliked, and embroiled in various complications with other powers. Our history can show very few diplomatic achievements to be compared with this, for it was brilliant in execution, and complete and valuable in result. Yet it has passed into history almost unnoticed, and both the treaty and its maker have been singularly and most unjustly neglected. Even the accurate and painstaking Hildreth omits the date and circumstances of Pinckney's appointment, while the last elaborate history of the United States scarcely alludes to the matter, and finds no place in its index for the name of its author. It was in fact one of the best pieces of work done during Washington's administration, and perfected its policy on a most difficult and essential point. It is high time that justice were done to the gallant soldier and accomplished diplomatist who conducted the negotiation and rendered such a solid service to his country. Thomas Pinckney, who really did something, who did work worth doing and without many words, has been forgotten, while many of his contemporaries, who simply made a noise, are freshly remembered in the pages of history.
There was, however, another nation out on our Vestern and northern border more difficult to deal with than Spain; and in this quarter there was less evasion and delay, but more arrogance and bad temper. It was to England that Washington turned first when he took up the presidency, and it was in her control of the western posts and her ku fluence among the Indian tribes that he saw the greatest dangers to the continental movement of our people. . Morris, as we have seen, sounded the British government with but little success. Still they promised to send a minister, and in due time Mr. George Hammond arrived in that capacity, and opened a long and somewhat fruitless correspondence with the Secretary of State on the various matters of difference existing between the two countries. This interchange of letters went on peaceably and somewhat monotonously for many months, and then suddenly became very vivid and animated. This was the effect of the arrival of Genet; and at this point begins the long series of mistakes made by Great Britain in her dealings with the United States.
The principle of the declaration of neutrality could be easily upheld on broad political grounds, but technically its defense was by no means so simple. By the treaty of commerce with France we were bound to admit her privateers and prizes to our ports; and here, as any one could see, and as the sequel amply proved, was a fertile source of dangerous complications. Then by the treaty of alliance we guaranteed to France her West Indian possessions, binding ourselves to aid her in their defense; and a proclamation of neutrality when France was actually at war with a great naval power was an immediate and obvious limitation upon this guarantee. Hamilton argued that while France had an undoubted right to change her government, the treaty applied to a totally different