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Signature of the Bank Bill—Jefferson's Reports to Congress—The President's Southern Tour—Jefferson's Letter to J. B. Smith, and the Resulting Controversy with Mr. Adams—Jefferson's Letter to Washington on the Subject—To Colonel Monroe–To Mr. Adams—Mr. Adams's Reply—C. F. Adams's Allegations of Inconsistency considered (Note)—Jefferson's and Madison's Excursion North—Instructions to Mr. Short—Political Correspondence—Yazoo Claims—Effects of United States Bank Speculations—Jefferson visits Home—Eighteen Letters to his Daughters—His return, and the Meeting of Congress—Reports to Congress—Report to the President on English and French Commerce—His Views on Constitution of Virginia—Practice of keeping his “Ana’’ commenced—The Charges against this Production considered—Reasons for writing it—Did it involve a Breach of Confidence 2–Fairness of Posthumous Publications of this kind—Reasons for revising and leaving it for publication—Judge Marshall and his Life of Washington—Its bearing on the Republican Party, and on Jeffer. son–The Ana intended as a Defence against it—The Right to employ the Testimony adduced—Avoidance of irrelevant Personalities—Compared with similar Productions in this Particular—The Duty of Mr. Jefferson's Biographer.
PRESIDENT WASHINGTON's signing of the Bank Bill, did not abate Mr. Jefferson's confidence in him, or change their relations in the least degree towards each other. The latter wrote Colonel Innes, of Virginia, March 13th, 1791 :
“I wish you would come forward to the federal Legislature and give your assistance on a larger scale than that on which you are acting at present. I am satisfied you could render essential service; and I have such confidence in the purity of your republicanism, that I know your efforts would go in a right direction. Zeal and talents added to the republican scale will do no harm in Congress. It is fortunate that our first executive magistrate is purely and zealously republican. 2 AN AWRWARD AFFAIR. [CHAP. I.
vol. II.-l 1
We cannot expect all his successors to be so, and therefore should avail ourselves of the present day to establish principles and examples which may fence us against future heresies preached now, to be practised hereafter.”
During the winter session of Congress (1790–91), the Secretary of State made important reports to the House of Representatives relative to the American Mediterranean trade, to our prisoners in Algiers, to the cod and whale fisheries, and to other topics, for which we must refer the reader to his published Works. Congress adjourned on the 3d of March, 1791.
In April, the President set out on a tour through the Southern States. Informing the Cabinet of the points where their communications would find him, at specified dates, he directed them, if serious questions should arise—of which he thought “the probability was but too strong”—to consult together, and if necessary, notify him to return. But if the heads of departments thought they could legally and properly proceed without the immediate agency of the President, they were authorized to do so. In a “supposed emergency'” (which the President's letters do not specifically name), the Vice-President's opinion was to be taken."
In May, an event took place which led to some unpleasant consequences; and it was thus described, at the moment, by Mr. Jefferson, one of the principal actors in it, in a letter to the President :
PHILADELPHIA, May 8, 1791.
SIR ' The last week does not furnish one single public event worthy communicat
ing to you; so that I have only to say “all is well.” Paine's answer” to Burke's pamphlet begins to produce some squibs in our public papers. In Fenno's paper they are Burkites, in the others, Painites. One of Fenno's was evidently from the author of the discourses on Davila. I am afraid the indiscretion of a printer has committed me with my friend, Mr. Adams, for whom, as one of the most honest and disinterested men alive, I have a cordial esteem, increased by long habits of concurrence in opinion in the days of his republicanism; and even since his apostasy to hereditary monarchy and nobility, though we differ, we differ as friends should do. Beckley had the only copy of Paine's pamphlet, and lent it to me, desiring when I should have read it, that I would send it to a Mr. J. B. Smith, who had asked it for his brother to reprint it. Being an utter stranger to J. B. Smith,
1 He was consulted during the President's absence; and Mr. Jefferson erroneously mentions it as the “only occasion” on which the Vice-President “was ever requested to take part in a Cabinet question.” This shows that the President's consultation of Mr. Adams, in regard to permitting Lord Dorchester's passage across our territories, was not made known to his Cabinet.
2 That is, his “Rights of Man.”
CHAP. I.] EXPLANATIONS, ETC. 3
both by sight and character, I wrote a note to explain to him why I (a stranger to him) sent him a pamphlet, to wit, that Mr. Beckley had desired it; and to take off a little of the dryness of the note, I added that I was glad to find it was to be reprinted, that something would, at length, be publicly said against the political heresies which had lately sprung up among us, and that I did not doubt our citizens would rally again round the standard of Common Sense. That I had in my view the discourses on Davila, which have filled Fenno's papers for a twelvemonth, without contradiction, is certain, but nothing was ever further from my thoughts than to become myself the contradicter before the public. To my great astonishment, however, when the pamphlet came out, the printer had prefixed my note to it, without having given me the most distant hint of it. Mr. Adams will unquestionably take to himself the charge of political heresy, as conscious of his own views of drawing the present government to the form of the English Constitution, and, I fear, will consider me as meaning to injure him in the public eye. I learn that some Anglo-men have censured it in another point of view, as a sanction of Paine's principles tends to give offence to the British Government. Their real fear, however, is that this popular and republican pamphlet, taking wonderfully, is likely at a single stroke to wipe out all the unconstitutional doctrines which their bell-wether Davila has been preaching for a twelvemonth. I certainly never made a secret of my being anti-monarchical, and anti-aristocratical; but I am sincerely mortified to be thus brought forward on the public stage, where to remain, to advance, or to retire, will be equally against my love of silence and quiet, and my abhorrence of dispute. * * * * *
In a letter to Colonel Monroe (July 10th), Mr. Jefferson thus traced the further history of this affair:
“The papers which I send Mr. Randolph weekly, and which I presume you see, will have shown you what a dust Paine's pamphlet has kicked up here. My last to Mr. Randolph will have given an explanation as to myself, which I had not time to give when I sent you the pamphlet. A writer under the name of Publicola, in attacking all Paine's principles, is very desirous of involving me in the same censure with the author. I certainly merit the same, for I profess the same principles; but it is equally certain I never meant to have entered as a volunteer into the cause. My occupations do not permit it. Some persons here are insinuating that I am Brutus, that I am Agricola, that I am Philodemus, etc., etc. I am none of them, being decided not to write a word on the subject, unless any printed imputation should call for a printed disavowal, to which I should put my name. A Boston paper has declared that Mr. Adams “ has no more concern in the publication of the writings of Publicola, than the author of the Rights of Man himself.” If the equivoque here were not intended, the disavowal is not entirely credited, because not from Mr. Adams himself, and because the style and sentiments raise so strong a presumption." Besides, to produce any effect he must disavow Davila and the Defence of the American Constitutions. A host of writers have risen in favor of Paine, and prove that in this quarter, at least, the spirit of republicanism is sound. The contrary spirit of the high officers of government is more understood than I expected. Colonel Hamilton avowing that he never made a secret of his principles,
1 Mr. Adams's son, John Quincy Adams, was the author of the articles signed Publicola.
4 EXPLANATION TO MR. ADAMS. [ciiAP. I.
yet taxes the imprudence of Mr. Adams in having stirred the question, and agrees that ‘ his business is done.' Jay, covering the same principles under the veil of silence, is rising steadily on the ruins of his friends.”
On the 17th he addressed the following frank and manly letter to Mr. Adams, which, if it sheds no new light on the transaction, deserves examination in this connection for the personal feelings which it displays. It goes to show how far Mr. Jefferson was purposely the aggressor in the bitter contests soon to take place, and in which his name was made to bear so conspicuous a part.
PHILADELPHIA, July 17, 1791. DEAR SIR:
I have a dozen times taken up my pen to write to you, and as often laid it down again, suspended between opposing considerations. I determine, however, to write from a conviction that truth, between candid minds, can never do harm. The first of Paine's pamphlets on the Rights of Man, which came to hand here, belonged to Mr. Beckley. He lent it to Mr. Madison, who lent it to me; and while I was reading it, Mr. Beckley called on me for it, and, as I had not finished it, he desired me, as soon as I should have done so, to send it to Mr. Jonathan B. Smith, whose brother meant to reprint it. I finished reading it, and, as I had no acquaintance with Mr. Jonathan B. Smith, propriety required that I should explain to him why I, a stranger to him, sent him the pamphlet. I accordingly wrote a note of compliment, informing him that I did it at the desire of Mr. Beckley, and, to take off a little of the dryness of the note, I added that I was glad that it was to be reprinted here, and that something was to be publicly said against the political heresies which had sprung up among us, etc. I thought so little of this note, that I did not even keep a copy of it: nor ever heard a tittle more of it, till, the week following, I was thunderstruck with seeing it come out at the head of the pamphlet. I hoped, however, it would not attract notice. But I found, on my return from a journey of a month, that a writer came forward, under the signature of Publicola, attacking not only the author and principles of the pamphlet, but myself as its sponsor, by name. Soon after came hosts of other writers, defending the pamphlet, and attacking you, by name, as the writer of Publicola. Thus were our names thrown on the public stage as public antagonists. That you and I differ in our ideas of the best form of government, is well known to us both ; but we have differed as friends should do, respecting the purity of each other's motives, and confining our difference of opinion to private conversation. And I can declare with truth, in the presence of the Almighty, that nothing was further from my intention or expectation than to have either my own or your name brought before the public on this occasion. The friendship and confidence which has so long existed between us, required this explanation from me, and I know you too well to fear any misconstruction of the motives of it. Some people here, who would wish me to be, or to be thought guilty of improprieties, have suggested that I was Agricola, that I was Brutus, etc., etc. I never did in my life, either by myself or by any other, have a sentence of mine inserted in a newspaper without putting my name to it; and I believe I never shall.
CHAP. I.] MR. ADAMS's ANSWER. 5
It will be observed that while this letter disclaims any intention of publicly assailing Mr. Adams, it does not hint at a denial that Mr. Adams was alluded to in the letter to Smith as one of
the persons guilty of “political heresies;” nay, Jefferson
expressly says: “that you and I differ in our ideas of the best form of government, is well known to us both *—and he speaks as if these differences had been made the subject of conversation between himself and Mr. Adams."
Mr. Adams replied, July 29th, giving “full credit” to the disclaimer—declaring that “the friendship that had subsisted [between them] for fifteen years without the smallest interruption, and, until this occasion, without the slightest suspicion, ever had been, and still was very dear to his heart”—and that he “had not a doubt ' Mr. Jefferson’s “motives for writing to him " “were the most pure and the most friendly.” He declared that he had not, “either by himself or by any other, [had] a sentence of his inserted in a newspaper since he had left Philadelphia’—that “he neither wrote nor corrected Publicola.”
The letter contained the following paragraph:
“You observe : ‘that you and I differ in our ideas of the best form of govern ment, is well known to us both.' But, my dear sir, you will give me leave to say that I do not know this. I know not what your idea is of the best form of government. You and I have never had a serious conversation together, that I can recollect, concerning the nature of government. The very transient hints that have ever passed between us have been jocular and superficial, without ever coming to an explanation. If you suppose that I have, or ever had, a design or desire of attempting to introduce a government of King, Lords, and Commons, or in other words, an hereditary Executive, or an hereditary Senate, either into the Government of the United States, or that of any individual State, you are wholly mistaken. There is not such a thought expressed or intimated in any public writing or private letter, and I may safely challenge all mankind to produce such a passage, and quote the chapter and verse. If you have ever put such a construction on anything of mine, I beg you would mention it to me, and I will undertake to convince you that it has no such meaning.”.”
1 A letter from Knox to Adams, June 10, 1791 (published in Adams's Works, vol. viii. p. 503), speaks of Mr. Jefferson's note prefixed to Paine's pamphlet. It would seem to us from this letter, that Knox, too, was fully under the impression there was such a dif. ference between Jefferson's and Adams's ideas of government, as the former alleged. * For the letter entire, see Adams's Works, vol. viii. pp. 506–509. On a cursory view, the contents of this letter might appear to clash with the report of the dinner-table conversation between Adams, Hamilton and Jefferson, reported in the Ana and quoted by us in vol. i. pp. 633–4. But Adams would be justly entitled to claim that although he thought the British Constitution purged, as he proposed in that conversation, would be “the most rfect one on earth’’ in theory, he did not thereby express any wish to “attempt to troduce " it into the United States. Again, he denies that they have had any serious con