網頁圖片
PDF

Cn. I.]

of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans; we are all federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough. But would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and visionary fear, that this government, the world's best hope, may, by possibility, want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest government on earth. I believe it the only one, where every man, at the call of the law, would fly to the standard of the law, and would meet invasions of the public order as his own personal concern. Sometimes it is said, that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he then be trusted with the government of others? Or, have we found angels in the form of kings, to govern him? Let history answer this question.

"Let us, then, with courage and confidence, pursue our own federal and republican principles; our attachment to union and representative government. Kindly separated by nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the degra

13

dations of the others; possessing a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisitions of our own industry, to honor and confidence from our fellow-citizens, resulting not from birth, but from our actions and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, professed indeed and practised in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which, by all its dispensations, proves that it delights in the happiness of man here, and his greater happiness hereafter; with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens, a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned This is the sum of good government and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

"About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend every thing dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently, those which ought to shape its administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the state governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns, and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies; the preservation of the general government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet-anchor of our peace at home, and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people, a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which there is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well-disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace, and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority ; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burdened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information, and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press; and freedom of person, under the protection of the habeas coiym; and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright conBtellation which has gone before us,

JEFFERSON'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS.

and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages, and blood of our heroes, have been devoted to their attainment: they should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps, and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.

"I repair, then, fellow-citizens, to the post you have assigned me. With experience enough in subordinate offices to have seen the difficulties of this, the greatest of all, I have learned to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man, to retire from this station with the reputation and the favor which bring him into it. Without pretensions to that high confidence you reposed in our first and greatest revolutionary character, whose pre-eminent services had entitled him to the first place in his country's love, and destined for him the fairest page in the volume of faithful history, I ask so much confidence only as may give firmness and effect to the legal administration of your affairs. I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional; and your support against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not, if seen in all its parts. The approbation ira

1801.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

plied by your suffrage, is a great consolation to me for the past; and my future solicitude will be, to retain the good opinion of those who have bestowed it in advance, to conciliate that of others, by doing them all the,good in my power, and to be instrumental to the happiness and freedom of all.

"Relying then on the patronage of your good-will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choices it is in your power to make. And may that Infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe, lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your prosperity."

The oath of office was then administered by the chief justice; and Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, and now, in the fiftyeighth year of his age, retired from the Senate-chamber with high hopes and sanguine expectations of the successful prosecution of his responsible and important duties. His Inaugural Address has been very highly lauded on the one hand, and quite as severely criticised on the other. The impartial reader must judge for himself of its merits; it will repay a careful examination. Mr. Tucker says of it; "On the style, it may be remarked, that though it is somewhat ambitious and rhetorical for a state paper, it does no discredit to the pains which had been evidently bestowed on it, and some of the principles it contained were expressed with a sententious and felicitous brevity, which made so lively an impression on the public mind, that they acquired

and yet retain the currency of popular maxims."

The next day, with the consent of the Senate, the president appointed James Madison secretary of state; Henry Dearborn, of Massachusetts, secretary of war; and Levi Lincoln, of the same state, attorney-general. The secretaries of the treasury and of the navy, Samuel Dexter and Benjamin Sfcoddert, who had been appointed by John Adams, were continued in office a short time; but in May, Albert Gallatin was placed over the treasury; and in July, Robert Smith, of Maryland, received the secretaryship of the navy, which Livingston, chancellor of New York, had first refused. Gideon Granger, a Connecticut republican, was at the same time appointed postmaster-general,* in place of Habersham of Georgia. And these nominations did not receive the confirmation of the Senate till the 26th of January, 1802.

Two days after his inauguration, Jefferson wrote to John Dickinson with the utmost apparent fervor and exultation. The pleasure of reading his letter, he tells him, "was like the joy we expect in the mansions of the blessed, when, received with the embraces of our forefathers, we shall be welcomed with their blessing as having done our part not unworthily of them. The storm through which we have passed has been tremendous indeed. The tough sides of our Argosie have been thoroughly tried. Her strength

* The postmaster-general was not made a member of the cabinet until the administration of Andrew Jacksoa

1801.

[ocr errors]

haa stood the waves into which she was steered with a view to sink her. We shall put her on the republican tack, and she will now show, by the beauty of her motion, the skill of her builders. Figure apart, our* fellow-citizens have been led, hoodwinked, from their principles, by a most extraordinary combination of circumstances. But the band is removed; and they now see for themselves. I hope to see shortly a perfect consolidation; to effect which, nothing shall be wanting on my part, short of the abandonment of the principles of the Revolution. A just and solid republican government maintained here, will be a standing monument and example for the aim and imitation of the people of other countries; and I join with you in the hope and belief that they will see from our example, that a free government is of all others the most energetic."

The new president, immediately on his entrance upon office, found himself in a perplexing position. The party who had placed him in his coveted chair had got the idea, that they were entitled to the rewards of exertion, and that all the patronage of the government was to be bestowed upon them exclusively. The present holders of office,—most of them, by the way, having been appointed by Washington,— were of course, to be removed, and the many friends and supporters of the new dynasty were to be put in their places. The democracy were clamorous for the spoils; the federalists were anxiously waiting the result which the president and dominant party had reached on this question. Indiscriminate removals,

it was felt, would be unwise, and very bad policy: while at the same time, it was perfectly certain, that nothing short of a very large excision would suffice to quiet the eager expectants for office and power. Mr. Hale, noticing the fact that it was but natural that Jefferson and the men who elected him, should wish that their friends should have a fair share in the offices under government, states what is worth remembering in our political history: "He set the first example of a president removing men from office because their political opinions differed from his own." It is worth remembering, too, that "by the frequent exercise of the power of removal for this cause alone, more strength must be given to the national government, and especially to the executive—that branch which freemen should watch with most jealousy—than by the most latitudinarian construction of the Constitution which any federalist was ever disposed to give to it."*

Writing to James Monroe, on the 7th of March, the president thus speaks • "I suspect that an incorrect idea of my views has got abroad. I am in hopes my Inaugural Address will in some measure set this to rights, as it will present the leading objects to be conciliation, and adherence to sound principle. This I know is impracticable with the leaders of the late faction, whom I abandon as incurables, and will never turn an inch out of my way to reconcile them. But with the main body of the federalists, I believe it

* Hale's "History of the United States," voL ii., p. 140.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

very practicable. . . . These people (I always exclude their leaders) are now aggregated with us; they look with a certain degree of affection and confidence to the administration, ready to become attached to it, if it avoids in the outset, acts which might revolt and throw them off. To give time for perfect consolidation seems prudent. I have firmly refused to follow the counsels of those who have desired the giving offices to some of their leaders, in order to reconcile. I have given, and will give, only to republicans, under existing circumstances. But I believe, with others, that deprivations of office, if made on the ground of political principles alone, would revolt our new converts, and give a body to leaders who now stand alone. Some I know must be made. They must be as few as possible, done gradually, and bottomed on some malversation or inherent disqualification. Where we shall draw the line between retaining all . and none, is not yet settled, and will not be till we get our administration together; and perhaps, even then we shall proceed a tdtons, balancing our measures according to the impression we perceive them to make."

To Mr. Giles, under date of the 23d of March, Jefferson avowed his determination, 1. To remove all who had been appointed by Mr. Adams after the election was known. 2. All who had been guilty of misconduct: 3. Not to remove those who merely differed from the republican party, except the attorneys and marshals of the federal courts.

The importance of this point, and
Vol. III.—3

the manner in which the present ad ministration set the example, which has been only too faithfully copied ever since, demands the reader's thoughtful consideration. An extract or two more from Jefferson's letters will help to elucidate his views and the course he adopted.

"I was not deluded," he writes to Elbridge Gerry,* "by the eulogiums of the public papers in the first moments of ch ange. If they could have continued to jjet all the loaves and fishes, that is, if I would have gone over to them, they would have continued to eulogize. But I well knew that the moment that such removals should take place, as the justice of the preceding administration ought to have executed, their hue and cry would be set up, and they would take their old stand. I shall disregard that also. Mr. Adams's last appointments, when he knew he was naming counsellors and aids for me, and not for himself, I set aside as far as depends on me. Officers who have been guilty of gross abuses of of fice, such as marshals packing juries,

* Notwithstanding the tone of Mr. Jefferson's remarks in his Inaugural, upon the "benign religion" which the American people, as a people, professed and were guided by, he occupies a considerable portion of his letter to Gerry in drawing out a sneering comparison between the printers of newspapers and the clergy. The former find it to their interest to keep up and create party noise and disturbance: equally so, he asserts of the latter. "The mild and simple principles of the Christian philosophy would produce too much calm, too much regularity of good, to extract from its disciples a support for a numerous priesthood, were they not to sophisticate it, ramify it, split it into hairs, and twist its texts, until they cover the divine morality of its Author with mysteries, and require a priesthood to explain them." See Tucker's "Life ofjefferton,n voL ii., p. 98.

« 上一頁繼續 »