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identified itself with France, and which was the party of Jefferson and the opposition. The Federalists and the administration under the lead of Washington and Hamilton were determined that the government should be American and not French, and this in the
of their opponents was equivalent to being in the control of England. In after years, when the Federalists fell from power and declined into the position of a factious minority, they became British sympathizers, and as thoroughly colonial in their politics as the party of Jefferson had been. If they had had the wisdom of their better days they would then have made themselves the champions of the American idea, and would have led the country in the deter: mined effort to free itself once for all from colonial politics, even if they were obliged to fight somebody to accomplish it. They proved unequal to the task, and it fell to a younger generation led by Henry Clay and his contemporaries to sweep Federalist and Jeffersonian republican alike, with their French and British politics, out of existence. In so doing the younger generation did but complete the work of Washington, for he it was who first trod the path and marked the way for a true American policy in the midst of men who could not understand his purposes.
Bitter and violent as had been the attacks upon Washington while he held office, they were as nothing compared to the shout of fierce exultation which went up from the opposition journals when
he finally retired from the presidency. One extract will serve as an example of the general tone of the opposition journals throughout the country. It is to be found in the "Aurora" of March 6, 1797:
« Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace,' was the pious ejaculation of a pious man who beheld a flood of happiness rushing in upon mankind. If ever there was a time that would license the reiteration of the ejaculation, that time has now arrived, for the man who is the source of all the misfortunes of our country is this day reduced to a level with his fellow-citizens, and is no longer possessed of power to multiply evils upon
the United States. If ever there was a period for rejoicing, this is the moment. Every heart in unison with the freedom and happiness of the people ought to beat high with exultation that the name of Washington ceases from this day to give currency to political insults, and to legalize corruption. A new era is now opening upon us, an era which promises much to the people, for public measures must now stand upon their own merits, and nefarious projects can no longer be supported by
When a retrospect has been taken of the Washingtonian administration for eight years, it is a subject of the greatest astonishment that a single individual should have cankered the principles of republicanism in an enlightened people just emerged from the gulf of despotism, and should have carried his designs against the public liberty so far as to have put in jeopardy its very existence. Such, however, are the facts, and with these staring us in the face, the day ought to be a JUBILEE in the United States."
This was not the outburst of a single malevolent spirit. The article was copied and imitated in New York and Boston, and wherever the party that called Jefferson leader had a representative among the newspapers. It is not probable that stuff of this sort gave Washington himself a mo, ment's anxiety, for he knew too well what he had done, and he was too sure of his own hold upon the hearts of the people, to be in the least disturbed by the attacks of hostile editors. But the extracts are of interest as showing that the opposi. tion party of that time, the party organized and led by Jefferson, regarded Washington as their worst enemy, and assailed him and slandered him to the utmost. They even went so far as to borrow materials from the enemies of the country with whom we had lately been at war, by publishing the forged letters attributed to Washington, and circulated by the British in 1777, in order to discredit the American general. : , Ope of Washington's last acts, on March 3, 1797, was to file in the State Department a solemn declaration that these letters, then republished by an American political party, were base forgeries, of English origin in a time of war. His own view of this performance is given in a letter to Benjamin Walker, in which he said: "Amongst other attempts, spurious letters, known at the time of their first publication (I believe in the year 1777) to be forgeries, are (or extracts from them) brought forward with the highest emblazoning of which
they are susceptible, with a view to attach princi. ples to me which every action of my life has given the lie to. But that is no stumbling-block with the editors of these papers and their supporters.
Two or three extracts from private letters will show how Washington regarded the course of the opposition, and the interpretation he put upon their attacks. After sketching in a letter to David Stuart the general course of the hostilities toward his administration, he said: “This not working 80 well as was expected, from a supposition that there was too much confidence in, and perhaps personal regard for, the present chief magistrate and his politics, the batteries have lately been leveled against him particularly and personally. Although he is soon to become a private citizen, his opinions are knocked down, and his character reduced as low as they are capable of sinking it, even by resorting to absolute falsehoods." 'Again he said, just before leaving office: “To misrepresent my motives, to reprobate my politics, and to weaken the confidence which has been reposed in my administration, are objects which cannot be relinquished by those who will be satisfied with nothing short of a change in our political system.” He at least labored under no misapprehension after eight years of trial as to the position or purposes of the party which had fought him and his administration, and which had savagely denounced his measures at every step, and with ever-increasing violence.
Having defined the attitude of the opposition, we can now consider that of Washington himself after he had retired from office, and no longer felt restrained by the circumstances of his election to the presidency from openly declaring his views, or publicly identifying himself with a political party, He rightly regarded the administration of Mr. Adams as a continuation of his own, and he gave to it a cordial support. He was equally clear and determined in his distrust and dislike of the opposition. Not long before leaving office he had written a letter to Jefferson, which, while it exon, erated that gentleman from being the author of certain peculiarly malicious attacks, showed very plainly that the writer completely understood the position occupied by his former secretary. It was a letter which must have been most, unpleasant reading for the person to whom it was addressed. A year later he wrote to John Nicholas in regard to Jefferson: “Nothing short of the evidence you have adduced, corroborative of intimations which I had received long before through another channel, could have shaken my belief in the sincerity of a friendship which I had conceived was possessed for me by the person to whom you allude.” There was no doubt in his mind now as to Jefferson's conduct, and he knew at last that he had been his foe even when a member of his political household. ;
When the time came to fill the offices in the provisional army, made necessary by the menace