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memorial; and it would have added during the continued suspense a fresh subject of excitement to the popular mind. Washington's duty plainly was to carry out his policy and bring the matter to an immediate conclusion, and, as was his custom, he did his duty. If, as Mr. Conway thinks, the Fauchet letter was what compelled the ratification, Washington would have given it to the world at once, and then, having by this means discredited the opposition and roused a feeling against the French, would have signed the treaty. England, of course, had taken advantage of this letter, and equally of course her minister and his influence were against Randolph, who was thought to be unfriendly. Hammond intrigued with our public men just as all the French ministers did. It is humiliating that such should have been the case, but it was due to our recent escape from a colonial condition, and to the way in which we allowed our politics to turn on foreign affairs. Having made up his mind to ratify and end the question, Washington very properly kept silence as to the Fauchet letter until the work was done. To do this, it was necessary of course that he should make no change in his personal attitude toward Randolph, nor was he obliged to do so, for he was too just a man to assume Randolph's guilt until his defense had been made. The ratification was brought before the cabinet at once.
There was a sharp discussion, in which it appeared that Randolph had advanced a good deal in his hostility to
the treaty, a fact not tending to make the Fauchet business look better; and then ratification was voted, and a memorial against the provision order was adopted. On August 18 the treaty was signed, and on the 19th, Washington, in the presence of his cabinet, placed the Fauchet letter in Randolph's hands. Randolph read it, made some comments, and asked time to offer suitable explanations. He then withdrew, and in a few hours sent in his resignation.
There would be no need, so far as Washington is concerned, to say more on this unfortunate affair of the Secretary of State, were it not for the recent statements made by Randolph's biographer. In order to clear his hero, Mr. Conway represents that Washington, knowing Randolph to be innocent, sacrificed him in great anguish of heart to an imperious political necessity, while the fact was, that nobody sacrificed Randolph except himself. He was represented in a dispatch written by the French minister in a light which, as Washington said, gave rise to strong suspicions; a moderate statement in which every candid man who knew anything about the matter has agreed from that day to this. According to Fauchet, Randolph not only had held conversations wholly unbecoming his position, but on the same authority he was represented to have asked for money. That the Secretary of State was corrupt, no one who knew him, as Jefferson said, for one moment believed. Whether he disposed of this charge or not, it was
plain to his friends, as it is to posterity, that Randolph was a perfectly honorable man. But neither his own vindication nor that of his biographer have in the least palliated or even touched the real error w he committed.
As Secretary of State, the head of the cabinet, and in charge of our foreign relations, he had, according to Fauchet's dispatch and to his own admissions, entered into relations with a foreign minister which ought to have been as impossible as they were discreditable to an American states
That Fauchet believed that Randolph deceived him did not affect the merits of the case, nor, if true, did it excuse Randolph, especially as everybody with whom he was brought into close contact seems at some time or other to have had doubts of his sincerity. As a matter of fact, Randolph could find no defense except to attack Washington and discuss our foreign relations, and his biographer has followed the same line. What was it then that Washington had actually done which called for assault? He had been put in possession of an official document which on its face implicated his Secretary of State in the intrigues of a foreign minister, and suggested that he was open to corruption. These were the views which the public, having no personal knowledge of Randolph, would be sure to take, and as a matter of fact actually took, when the affair became kuown. There was a great international question to be settled, and settled without delay. This
was done in a week, during which time Washington kept silent, as his public duty required. The moment the treaty was signed he handed Fauchet's dispatch to Randolph and asked for an explanation. None knew of the dispatch except the cabinet officers, through whom it had necessarily come. Washington did not prejudge the case; he did not dismiss Randolph with any mark of displeasure, as he would have been quite justified in doing. He simply asked for explanation, and threw open his own correspondence and the archives of the department, so that Randolph might have every opportunity for defense. It is difficult to see how Washington could have done less in dealing with Randolph, or in what way he could have shown greater consideration.
Randolph resigned of his own motion, and then cried out against Washington because he had been obliged to pay the penalty of his own errors. When it is considered that Washington did abso lutely nothing to Randolph except to hand him Fauchet's dispatch and accept his consequent resignation, the talk about Randolph's forgiving him becomes simply ludicrous. Randolph saw his own error, was angry with himself, and, like the rest of humanity, proceeded to vent his anger on somebody else, but unfortunately he had the bad taste to turn at the outset to the newspapers.
Like Mr. Snodgrass, he took off his coat in public and announced in a loud voice that he was going to begin. The President's only response was to open
the archives and bid him publish everything he desired. Randolph then wrote the President a private letter, which was angry and impertinent; “full of innuendoes,” said the recipient. Washington drafted a sharp reply, and then out of pure kindness withheld it, and let the private letter drop into silence, whither the bulky“Vindication, which vindicated nobody, soon followed it. The fact was, that Washington treated Randolph with great kindness and forbearance. He had known him long; he was fond of him on his own account as well as his father's; he appreciated Randolph's talents; but he knew on reading that dispatch, if he had never guessed it before, that Randolph, although honest and clever, and certainly not bad, was a dangerously weak man.
Others among our public men had put themselves into relations with foreign representatives which it is now intolerable to contemplate, but Randolph, besides being found out at the moment, had, after the fashion of weak natures, gone further and shown more feebleness than any one else had. Washington's conduct was so perfectly simple, and the facts of the case were so plain, that it would seem impossible to complicate them. The contemporary verdict was harsh, crushing, and unjust in many respects to Randolph. The verdict of posterity, which is both gentler and fairer to the secretary, will certainly at the same time sustain Washington's course at every point as sensible, direct, and proper.
Only one question remains which demands á