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atives of the office which he happened to hold, whether it was that of president or general of the armies. This arose from no personal feeling, for he was too great a man ever to worry about his own dignity; but he esteemed the great offices to which he was called to be trusts, which were to suffer no injury while in his hands. He regarded the attempt of the House of Representatives to demand the papers as a matter of right as an encroachment on the rights of the Executive Department, and he therefore resisted it at once, and after his usual fashion left no one in
doubt as to his views. So far as the President was concerned, the struggle ended here; but it was continued for some time longer in the House, where the debate went on for a fortnight, with the hostile majority surely and steadily declining. The current out-doors ran more and more strongly every day in favor of the administration, until at last the contest ended with Ames's great speech, and then the resolution to carry out the treaty prevailed. Washington's policy had triumphed, and was accepted by the country.
The Jay treaty and its ratification had, however, other results than mere domestic conflicts. Spain, acting under French influence, threatened to rescind the Pinckney treaty which had just been made so advantageously to the United States; but, like most Spanish performances at that time, these threats evaporated in words, and the Mississippi
With France, however, the case
was very different.
Our demand for the recall of Genet had been met by a counter-demand for the recall of Morris, to which, of course, we were obliged to accede, and the question as to the latter's sụccessor was a difficult and important one. Washington himself had been perfectly satisfied with the conduct of Morris, but he was also aware that the known dislike of that brilliant diplomatist to the revolutionary methods then dominant in Paris had seriously complicated our relations with France. He wished by all fair means to keep France in good humor, and he therefore determined that Morris's successor should be a man whose friendship toward the French republic was well known. His first choice was Madison, which would have answered admirably, for Madison was preëminently a safe man. Very unluckily, however, Madison either could not or would not go, and the President's final choice was by no means equally good. It was,
of course, most desirable that the new minister should be persona grata to the republic, but it was vastly more important that he should be in cordial sympathy with the administration at home, for no administration ought ever to select for a foreign mission, especially at a critical moment, any one outside the ranks of its own supporters. This was the mistake which Washington, from the best of motives, now committed by appointing James Monroe to be minister to France. It is one of the puzzles of our history to reconcile the respectable and commonplace gentleman, who
for two terms as President of the United States had less opposition than ever fell to the lot of any other man in that office, with the violent, unscrupulous, and extremely light-headed politician who figured as senator from Virginia and minister to France at the close of the last century. Monroe at the time of his appointment had distinguished himself chiefly by his extreme opposition to the administration, and by his intrigues against Hamilton, which were so dishonestly conducted that they ultimately compelled the publication of the "Reynolds Pamphlet,” a sore trial to its author, and a lasting blot on the fame of the enemy who made the publication necessary. From such a man loyalty to the President who appointed him was hardly to be expected. But there was no reason to suppose that he would lose his head, and forget that he was an American, and not a French citizen.
Monroe reached Paris in the summer of 1794. He was publicly received by the Convention, made an undignified and florid speech, received the national embrace from the president of the Convention, and then effected an exchange of flags with more embracings and addresses. But when he came to ask redress for the wrongs committed against our merchants, he got no satisfaction. So far as he was concerned, this appears to have been a matter of indifference, for he at once occupied himself with the French proposition that we should lend France five millions of dollars, and France in
return was to see to it that we obtained control of the Spanish possessions in North America. Monroe fell in with this precious scheme to make the United States a dependency of France, and received as a reward vast promises as to what the great republic would do for us. Meantime he regarded with suspicion Jay's movements in England, and endeavored to obtain information, if not control, of that negotiation. In this he completely failed; but he led the French government to believe, first, that the English treaty would not be made, then that it would not be ratified, and finally that the House would not make the appropriations nécessary to carry it into effect; and all the time he was compromising his own government by his absurd efforts to involve it in an offensive alliance with France. The upshot of it all was that he was disowned at home, discredited in France, and brought our relations with that nation into a state of dangerous complication, without obtaining any redress for our injuries.
Washington at first, little as he liked the theatrical performances with which Monroe opened his mission, wrote about him with great moderation to Jay, who was naturally much annoyed by the manner in which Monroe had tried to interfere with his negotiations. Six months later, however, Washington saw only too plainly that he had been mistaken in his minister to France. He wrote to Randolph on July 24, 1795: “The conduct of Mr. Monroe is of a piece with that of the other; and
one can scarcely forbear thinking that these acts are part of a premeditated system to embarrass the executive government.” When it became clear that Monroe had omitted to explain properly our reasons for treating with England, that he had held out hopes to the French government which were totally unauthorized, that he had brought on a renewal of the hostilities of that government, and that he had placed us in all ways in the most unenviable light, Washington recalled him, and appointed Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in his place. By this time too he was thoroughly disgusted with Monroe's performances, and in his letter to Pinckney, on July 8, 1796, offering him the appointment to Paris, he said: “It is a fact too notorious to be denied that the greatest embarrassments under which the administration of this government labors proceed from the counter-action of people among ourselves, who are more disposed to promote the views of another nation than to establish a national character of their own; and that, unless the virtuous and independent men of this country will come forward, it is not difficult to predict the consequences. Such is my decided opinion.” He felt, as he wrote to Hamilton at the close of his administration, that “the conduct of France towards this country is, according to my ideas of it, outrageous beyond conception; not to be warranted by her treaty with us, by the law of nations, by any principle of justice, or even by a regard to decent appearances." This was after