Life And Times Of Washington, Volume 2
John Frederick Schroeder and Benson John Lossing

Part 11 out of 16

The constitutional authority of the Federal government to assume the
debts of the States was questioned. Its powers, it was said, were
specified, and this was not among them.

The policy of the measure, as it affected merely the government of the
Union, was controverted, and its justice was arraigned.

On the ground of policy, it was objected that the assumption would
impose on the United States a burden, the weight of which was
unascertained, and which would require an extension of taxation beyond
the limits which prudence would prescribe. An attempt to raise the
impost would be dangerous, and the excise added to it would not produce
funds adequate to the object. A tax on real estate must be resorted to,
objections to which had been made in every part of the Union. It would
be more advisable to leave this source of revenue untouched in the
hands of the State governments, who could apply to it with more
facility, with a better understanding of the subject, and with less
dissatisfaction to individuals, than could possibly be done by the
government of the United States.

There existed no necessity for taking up this burden. The State
creditors had not required it. There was no petition from them upon the
subject. There was not only no application from the States, but there
was reason to believe that they were seriously opposed to the measure.
Many of them would certainly view it with a jealous--a jaundiced eye.
The convention of North Carolina which adopted the constitution had
proposed, as an amendment to it, to deprive Congress of the power of
interfering between the respective States and their creditors, and
there could be no obligation to assume more than the balances which on
a final settlement would be found due to creditor States.

That the debt by being thus accumulated would be perpetuated, was also
an evil of real magnitude. Many of the States had already made
considerable progress in extinguishing their debts, and the process
might certainly be carried on more rapidly by them than by the Union. A
public debt seemed to be considered by some as a public blessing, but
to this doctrine they were not converts. If, as they believed, a public
debt was a public evil, it would be enormously increased by adding
those of the States to that of the Union.

The measure was unwise, too, as it would affect public credit. Such an
augmentation of the debt must inevitably depreciate its value, since it
was the character of paper, whatever denomination it might assume, to
diminish in value in proportion to the quantity in circulation.

It would also increase an evil which was already sensibly felt. The
State debts, when assumed by the continent, would, as that of the Union
had already done, accumulate in large cities; and the dissatisfaction
excited by the payment of taxes would be increased by perceiving that
the money raised from the people flowed into the hands of a few
individuals. Still greater mischief was to be apprehended. A great part
of this additional debt would go into the hands of foreigners, and the
United States would be heavily burdened to pay an interest which could
not be expected to remain in the country.

The measure was unjust, because it was burdening those States which had
taxed themselves highly to discharge the claims of their creditors with
the debts of those which had not made the same exertions. It would
delay the settlement of accounts between the individual States and the
United States, and the supporters of the measure were openly charged
with intending to defeat that settlement.

It was also said that in its execution the scheme would be found
extremely embarrassing, perhaps impracticable. The case of a partial
accession to the measure by the creditors, a case which would probably
occur, presented a difficulty for which no provision was made, and of
which no solution had been given. Should the creditors in some States
come into the system, and those in others refuse to change their
security, the government would be involved in perplexities from which
no means of extricating itself had been shown. Nor would it be
practicable to discriminate between the debts contracted for general
and for local objects.

In the course of the debate severe allusions were made to the conduct
of particular States, and the opinions advanced in favor of the measure
were ascribed to local interests.

In support of the assumption, the debts of the States were traced to
their origin. America, it was said, had engaged in a war the object of
which was equally interesting to every part of the Union. It was not
the war of a particular State, but of the United States. It was not the
liberty and independence of a part, but of the whole, for which they
had contended, and which they had acquired. The cause was a common
cause. As brethren, the American people had consented to hazard
property and life in its defense. All the sums expended in the
attainment of this great object, whatever might be the authority under
which they were raised or appropriated, conduced to the same end.
Troops were raised, and military stores purchased, before Congress
assumed the command of the army or the control of the war. The
ammunition which repulsed the enemy at Bunker's Hill was purchased by
Massachusetts, and formed a part of the debt of that State.

Nothing could be more erroneous than the principle which had been
assumed in argument, that the holders of securities issued by
individual States were to be considered merely as State creditors, as
if the debt had been contracted on account of the particular State. It
was contracted on account of the Union, in that common cause in which
all were equally interested.

From the complex nature of the political system which had been adopted
in America, the war was, in a great measure, carried on through the
agency of the State governments, and the debts were, in truth, the
debts of the Union, for which the States had made themselves
responsible. Except the civil list, the whole State expenditure was in
the prosecution of the war, and the State taxes had undeniably exceeded
the provision for their civil list. The foundation for the several
classes of the debt was reviewed in detail, and it was affirmed to be
proved from the review, and from the books in the public offices, that,
in its origin, a great part of it, even in form, and the whole, in
fact, was equitably due from the continent. The States individually
possessing all the resources of the nation, became responsible to
certain descriptions of the public creditors. But they were the agents
of the continent in contracting the debt, and its distribution among
them for payment arose from the division of political power which
existed under the old confederation. A new arrangement of the system
had taken place, and a power over the resources of the nation was
conferred on the general government. With the funds the debt also ought
to be assumed. This investigation of its origin demonstrated that the
assumption was not the creation of a new debt, but the reacknowledgment
of liability for an old one, the payment of which had devolved on those
members of the system who, at the time, were alone capable of paying
it. And thence was inferred not only the justice of the measure, but a
complete refutation of the arguments drawn from the constitution. If,
in point of fact, the debt was in its origin continental and had been
transferred to the States for greater facility of payment, there could
be no constitutional objection to restoring its original and real

The great powers of war, of taxation, and of borrowing money, which
were vested in Congress to pay the debts and provide for the common
defense and general welfare of the United States, comprised that in
question. There could be no more doubt of their right to charge
themselves with the payment of a debt contracted in the past war, than
to borrow money for the prosecution of a future war. The impolicy of
leaving the public creditors to receive payment from different sources
was also strongly pressed, and the jealousy which would exist between
the creditors of the Union and of the States was considered as a
powerful argument in favor of giving them one common interest. This
jealousy, it was feared, might be carried so far as even to create an
opposition to the laws of the Union.

If the State should provide for their creditors, the same sum of money
must be collected from the people as would be required if the debt
should be assumed, and it would probably be collected in a manner more
burdensome than if one uniform system should be established. If all
should not make such provision, it would be unjust to leave the soldier
of one State unpaid, while the services of the man who fought by his
side were amply compensated, and, after having assumed the funds, it
would dishonor the general government to permit a creditor, for
services rendered or property advanced for the continent, to remain
unsatisfied, because his claim had been transferred to the State at a
time when the State alone possessed the means of payment. By the
injured and neglected creditor such an arrangement might justly be
considered as a disreputable artifice.

Instead of delaying, it was believed to be a measure which would
facilitate the settlement of accounts between the States. Its advocates
declared that they did not entertain and never had entertained any wish
to procrastinate a settlement. On the contrary it was greatly desired
by them. They had themselves brought forward propositions for that
purpose, and they invited their adversaries to assist in improving the
plan which had been introduced.

The settlement between the States, it was said, either would or would
not be made. Should it ever take place, it would remedy any
inequalities which might grow out of the assumption. Should it never
take place, the justice of the measure became the more apparent. That
the burdens in support of a common war, which from various causes had
devolved unequally on the States, ought to be apportioned among them,
was a truth too clear to be controverted, and this, if the settlement
should never be accomplished, could be effected only by the measure now
proposed. Indeed, in any event, it would be the only certain, as well
as only eligible plan. For how were the debtor States to be compelled
to pay the balances which should be found against them?

If the measure was recommended by considerations which rendered its
ultimate adoption inevitable, the present was clearly preferable to any
future time. It was desirable immediately to quiet the minds of the
public creditors by assuring them that justice would be done, to
simplify the forms of public debt, and to put an end to that
speculation which had been so much reprobated and which could be
terminated only by giving the debt a real and permanent value.

That the assumption would impair the just influence of the States was
controverted with great strength of argument. The diffusive
representation in the State Legislatures, the intimate connection
between the representative and his constituents, the influence of the
State Legislatures over the members of one branch of the national
Legislature, the nature of the powers exercise by the State
governments, which perpetually presented them to the people in a point
of view calculated to lay hold of the public affections, were
guarantees that the States would retain their due weight in the
political system and that a debt was not necessary to the solidity or
duration of their power.

But the argument, it was said, proved too much. If a debt was now
essential to the preservation of State authority it would always be so.
It must therefore never be extinguished, but must be perpetuated in
order to secure the existence of the State governments. If, for this
purpose, it was indispensable that the expenses of the Revolutionary
War should be borne by the States, it would not be less indispensable
that the expenses of future wars should be borne in the same manner.
Either the argument was unfounded or the constitution was wrong, and
the powers of the sword and the purse ought not to have been conferred
on the government of the Union. Whatever speculative opinions might be
entertained on this point, they were to administer the government
according to the principles of the constitution as it was framed. But,
it was added, if so much power followed the assumption as the objection
implies, is it not time to ask--is it safe to forbear assuming? If the
power is so dangerous it will be so when exercised by the States. If
assuming tends to consolidation, is the reverse, tending to disunion, a
less weighty objection? If it is answered that the non-assumption will
not necessarily tend to disunion, neither, it may be replied, does the
assumption necessarily tend to consolidation.

It was not admitted that the assumption would tend to perpetuate the
debt. It could not be presumed that the general government would be
less willing than the local governments to discharge it; nor could it
be presumed that the means were less attainable by the former than the

It was not contended that a public debt was a public blessing. Whether
a debt was to be preferred to no debt was not the question. The debt
was already contracted, and the question so far as policy might be
consulted, was, whether it was more for the public advantage to give it
such a form as would render it applicable to the purposes of a
circulating medium, or to leave it a mere subject of speculation,
incapable of being employed to any useful purpose. The debt was
admitted to be an evil, but it was an evil from which, if wisely
modified, some benefit might be extracted, and which, in its present
state, could have only a mischievous operation.

If the debt should be placed on adequate funds, its operation on public
credit could not be pernicious; in its present precarious condition,
there was much more to be apprehended in that respect.

To the objection that it would accumulate in large cities, it was
answered it would be a moneyed capital, and would be held by those who
chose to place money at interest, but by funding the debt the present
possessors would be enabled to part with it at its nominal value,
instead of selling it at its present current rate. If it should center
in the hands of foreigners, the sooner it was appreciated to its proper
standard, the greater quantity of specie would its transfer bring into
the United States.

To the injustice of charging those States which had made great
exertions for the payment of their debts with the burden properly
belonging to those which had not made such exertions, it was answered
that every State must be considered as having exerted itself to the
utmost of its resources, and that if it could not or would not make
provision for creditors to whom the Union was equitably bound, the
argument in favor of an assumption was the stronger.

The arguments drawn from local interests were repelled and retorted,
and a great degree of irritation was excited on both sides.

After a very animated discussion of several days, the question was
taken, and the resolution was carried by a small majority. Soon after
this decision, while the subject was pending before the House, the
delegates from North Carolina took their seats, and changed the
strength of parties. By a majority of two voices, the resolution was
recommitted, and, after a long and ardent debate, was negatived by the
same majority.

This proposition continued to be supported with a degree of earnestness
which its opponents termed pertinacious, but not a single opinion was
changed. It was brought forward in the new and less exceptionable form
of assuming specific sums from each State. Under this modification of
the principle, the extraordinary contributions of particular States
during the war, and their exertions since the peace, might be regarded,
and the objections to the measure, drawn from the uncertainty of the
sum to be assumed, would be removed. But these alterations produced no
change of sentiment, and the bill was sent up to the Senate with a
provision for those creditors only whose certificates of debt purported
to be payable by the Union.

In this state of things the measure is understood to have derived aid
from another, which was of a nature strongly to interest particular
parts of the Union.

From the month of June, 1783, when Congress was driven from
Philadelphia by the mutiny of a part of the Pennsylvania line, the
necessity of selecting some place for a permanent residence, in which
the government of the Union might exercise sufficient authority to
protect itself from violence and insult, had been generally
acknowledged. Scarcely any subject had occupied more time, or had more
agitated the members of the former Congress than this.

In December, 1784, an ordinance was passed for appointing commissioners
to purchase land on the Delaware, in the neighborhood of its falls, and
to erect thereon the necessary public buildings for the reception of
Congress and the officers of government; but the southern interest had
been sufficiently strong to arrest the execution of this ordinance by
preventing an appropriation of funds, which required the assent of nine
States. Under the existing government, this subject had received the
early attention of Congress, and many different situations, from the
Delaware to the Potomac inclusive, had been earnestly supported, but a
majority of both houses had not concurred in favor of any one place.
With as little success, attempts had been made to change the temporary
residence of Congress. Although New York was obviously too far to the
east, so many conflicting interests were brought into operation
whenever the subject was touched, that no motion designating a more
central place could succeed. At length, a compact respecting the
temporary and permanent seat of government was entered into between the
friends of Philadelphia and the Potomac, stipulating that Congress
should adjourn to and hold its sessions in Philadelphia for ten years,
during which time buildings for the accommodation of the government
should be erected at some place on the Potomac, to which the government
should remove at the expiration of the term. This compact having united
the representatives of Pennsylvania and Delaware with the friends of
the Potomac, in favor both of the temporary and permanent residence
which had been agreed on between them, a majority was produced in favor
of the two situations, and a bill which was brought into the Senate in
conformity with this previous arrangement, passed both houses by small
majorities. This act was immediately followed by an amendment to the
bill then depending before the Senate for funding the debt of the
Union. The amendment was similar in principle to that which had been
unsuccessfully proposed in the House of Representatives. By its
provisions, $21,500,000 of the State debts were assumed in specified
proportions, and it was particularly enacted that no certificate should
be received from a State creditor which could be "ascertained to have
been issued for any purpose other than compensations and expenditures
for services or supplies toward the prosecution of the late war and the
defense of the United States, or of some part thereof, during the

When the question was taken in the House of Representatives on this
amendment two members, representing districts on the Potomac, who, in
all the previous stages of the business, had voted against the
assumption, declared themselves in its favor, and thus the majority was
changed. [2]

Thus was a measure carried which was supported and opposed with a
degree of zeal and earnestness not often manifested, and which
furnished presages, not to be mistaken, that the spirit with which the
opposite opinions had been maintained, would not yield, contentedly, to
the decision of a bare majority. This measure has constituted one of
the great grounds of accusation against the first administration of the
general government, and it is fair to acknowledge that though, in its
progress, it derived no aid from the President, whose opinion remained
in his own bosom, it received the full approbation of his judgment.

A bill at length passed both houses, funding the debt upon principles
which lessened considerably the weight of the public burdens and was
entirely satisfactory to the public creditors. The proceeds of the
sales of the lands lying in the western territory and, by a subsequent
act of the same session, the surplus product of the revenue, after
satisfying the appropriations which were charged upon it with the
addition of $2,000,000, which the President was authorized to borrow at
5 per cent., constituted a sinking fund to be applied to the reduction
of the debt.

The effect of this measure was great and rapid. The public paper
suddenly rose and was for a short time above par. The immense wealth
which individuals acquired by this unexpected appreciation could not be
viewed with indifference. Those who participated in its advantages
regarded the author of a system to which they were so greatly indebted,
with an enthusiasm of attachment to which scarcely any limits were
assigned. To many others this adventitious collection of wealth in
particular hands was a subject rather of chagrin than of pleasure, and
the reputation which the success of his plans gave to the Secretary of
the Treasury was not contemplated with unconcern. As if the debt had
been created by the existing government, not by a war which gave
liberty and independence to the United States, its being funded was
ascribed by many, not to a sense of justice and to a liberal and
enlightened policy, but to the desire of bestowing on the government an
artificial strength, by the creation of a moneyed interest which would
be subservient to its will. The effects produced by giving the debt a
permanent value justified the predictions of those whose anticipations
had been most favorable. The sudden increase of moneyed capital derived
from it invigorated commerce and gave a new stimulus to agriculture.

About this time there was a great and visible improvement in the
circumstances of the people. Although the funding system was certainly
not inoperative in producing this improvement it cannot be justly
ascribed to any single cause. Progressive industry had gradually
repaired the losses sustained by the war, and the influence of the
constitution on habits of thinking and acting, though silent, was
considerable. In depriving the States of the power to impair the
obligation of contracts or to make anything but gold and silver a
tender in payment of debts, the conviction was impressed on that
portion of society which had looked to the government for relief from
embarrassment that personal exertions alone could free them from
difficulties, and an increased degree of industry and economy was the
natural consequence of this opinion. [3]

Various other matters besides those already noticed, occupied the
attention of Congress during this laborious session. The question of
the slave trade was brought up by a petition from the Quakers in
Pennsylvania, Delaware, and other States, and the venerable Dr.
Franklin, as president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the
Abolition of Slavery, sent in a memorial, early in February, asking the
serious attention of Congress to the importance and duty of extending
to the negroes the blessings of freedom. The subject was discussed at
great length and with much warmth on both sides, and toward the close
of March it was resolved, "That Congress have no authority to interfere
in the emancipation of slaves, or in the treatment of them within any
of the States." Laws for the naturalization of aliens, after two years'
residence, for the patenting of useful inventions, and for securing to
authors the copyright of their works; and others, regulating the
mercantile marine of the Union, in respect to the seamen engaged in it;
and forming a groundwork for a criminal code; for the ordering of what
was called "the military establishment," only 1,216 rank and file; and
for arranging the means of intercourse with the Indians in respect to
trade and the acquisition of their hunting-grounds, and with European
governments for the larger commerce which required the superintendence
of resident ministers--these were duly considered and framed. Much
other business was done, such as voting for the public service, under
the heads of the civil list, pensions for revolutionary services, the
military establishment, lighthouses, embassies, and outstanding debts,
the moderate sum of about $725,000.

Both houses, having returned thanks to the corporation of the city of
New York, "for the elegant and convenient accommodations furnished the
Congress of the United States," adjourned on the 12th of August (1790),
to meet again in December, in the city of Philadelphia.

Washington's old and valued friend, Dr. Franklin, after painful and
protracted sufferings, closed a life of four-score and four years on
the 17th of April, 1790. He was buried in the cemetery of Christ
Church, Philadelphia, and his funeral was attended by more than 20,000
of his fellow-citizens. Congress resolved to wear the customary badge
of mourning for one month, "as a mark of veneration due to the memory
of a citizen, whose native genius was not more an ornament to human
nature than his various exertions of it have been precious to science,
to freedom, and to his country." In the National Assembly of France,
Mirabeau eloquently dilated in praise of the illustrious deceased, and
Lafayette seconded the motion for a decree, ordering the members to
wear the usual badge of mourning for three days, and there was not a
land blessed with the light of civilization which did not lament his
death and pour forth expressions of sorrow for the loss which not only
America, but the world had sustained.

An act was passed by Congress to accept the cession of the claims of
the State of North Carolina, to a certain district of western
territory, and on the 20th of May, provision was made for its
government, under the title of "The Territory of the United States
south of the river Ohio."

On the 29th of May, 1790, Rhode Island, having become somewhat more
alive to her true interests and to the ill results which must certainly
follow her exclusion from the Union, adopted the constitution and cast
in her lot with the sister States for the great future which was
opening before them all.

A treaty of peace was concluded in August of this year with the Creek
Indians which restored tranquility to the people of Georgia. The
pacific overtures made to the Indians of the Wabash and the Miamis had
not been equally successful. The western frontiers were still exposed
to their incursions, and there was much reason to apprehend that the
people of Kentucky and of the western counties of the middle States
could only be relieved from the horrors of savage warfare by an
exertion of the military strength of the Union. In the opinion of the
President, the emergency required the immediate employment of a force
competent to the object and which should carry terror and destruction
into the heart of the hostile settlements. The people of the West,
however, declared their opinion in favor of desultory military
expeditions, and Congress indulged their wishes. The desire of the
executive for a military establishment equal to the exigency was not
regarded and the distresses of the frontier inhabitants therefore still

The conduct of Spain in relation to the disputed boundary, and its
pretensions to the navigation of the Mississippi, was such as to give
ground to fear that its dispositions toward the United States were
unfriendly. Between the United States and England the nonexecution of
several articles of the treaty of peace still furnished matter for
reciprocal crimination which there was the more difficulty in removing
because there was no diplomatic intercourse maintained between them.
Under the old government, Mr. Adams' mission had been treated with
neglect, and the new administration was not disposed to subject itself
to a similar mark of disrespect. Mr. Gouverneur Morris was instructed,
as an informal agent to the British government, to sound its views
respecting amicable and permanent arrangements of the matters in
dispute. But Mr. Morris remarked, "that there never was, perhaps, a
moment in which this country (Britain) felt herself greater, and,
consequently, it is the most unfavorable moment to obtain advantageous
terms from her in any bargain." He conducted his mission with ability
and address, but was unable to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion.
The communications laid before the American government at the same time
by Major Beckwith, an English gentlemen, who had come in an informal
manner to learn the dispositions of the American government towards
England and Spain, between which a rupture was expected, gave
Washington an insight of the object of the delays which had been
practiced with Mr. Morris. He was persuaded that a disposition existed
in the cabinet of London to retain things in their actual situation
until the intentions of the American government should be ascertained
with respect to the war supposed to be approaching. If America would
make a common cause with Great Britain against Spain, the way would be
smoothed to the attainment of all their objects, but if America should
incline toward Spain, no adjustment of the points of difference between
the two nations would be made. He therefore determined to hold himself
free to pursue without reproach, in the expected war, such a course as
the interest and honor of the United States might dictate. The want of
official authenticity in the communications of Mr. Beckwith was,
therefore, signified to that gentleman as a reason for reserve on the
part of the government and the powers given to Mr. Morris were
withdrawn. It was determined that things should remain in their actual
situation until a change of circumstances should require a change of
conduct. Scarcely had this resolution been adopted when the dispute
between Britain and Spain was adjusted, and thus both the fear of
inconveniences, and the hope of advantages which might result to
America from war between the two powers, were terminated.

By his incessant application to public business and the consequent
change of active for sedentary habits, the constitution of the
President seemed much impaired and during the second session of
Congress he had, for the second time since entering upon the duties of
his office, been attacked by a severe disease, which reduced him to the
brink of the grave. Exercise, and a temporary relief from the cares of
office, being essential to the restoration of his health, he determined
for the short interval afforded by the recess of the Legislature to
retire from the fatigues of public life to the tranquil shades of Mount
Vernon. Previously, however, he made a visit to Rhode Island, which,
not having been a member of the Union at the time of his late tour
through New England, had not been visited by him at that time.

His final departure from New York was not less affecting than his
arrival had been, when he came to assume the reins of government. "It
was always his habit," says Custis in his "Recollections," "to endeavor
to avoid the manifestations of affection and gratitude that met him
everywhere. He strove in vain--he was closely watched and the people
would have their way. He wished to slip off unobserved from New York
and thus steal a march upon his old companions in arms. But there were
too many of the dear glorious old veterans of the Revolution at that
time of day in and near New York to render such an escape possible.

"The baggage had all been packed up; the horses, carriages, and
servants ordered to be over the ferry to Paulus Hook by daybreak and
nothing was wanting for departure but the dawn. The lights were yet
burning, when the President came into the room where his family were
assembled, evidently much pleased in the belief that all was right,
when, immediately under the windows, the band of the artillery struck
up Washington's March. 'There,' he exclaimed, 'it's all over, we are
found out. Well, well, they must have their own way.' New York soon
after appeared as if taken by storm--troops and persons of all
descriptions hurrying down Broadway toward the place of embarkation,
all anxious to take a last look on him whom so many could never expect
to see again.

"The embarkation was delayed until all the complimentary arrangements
were completed. The President, after taking leave of many dear and
cherished friends, and many an old companion in arms, stepped into the
barge that was to convey him from New York forever. The coxswain gave
the word 'let fall;' the spray from the oars sparkled in the morning
sunbeams; the bowman shoved off from the pier, and, as the barge swung
round to the tide, Washington rose, uncovered, in the stern, to bid
adieu to the masses assembled on the shore; he waved his hat, and, in a
voice tremulous from emotion, pronounced--Farewell. It may be supposed
that Major Bauman, who commanded the artillery on this interesting
occasion, who was first captain of Lamb's regiment, and a favorite
officer of the war of the Revolution, would, when about to pay his last
respects to his beloved commander, load his pieces with something more
than mere blank cartridges. But ah! the thunders of the cannon were
completely hushed when the mighty shout of the people arose that
responded to the farewell of Washington. Pure from the heart it came,
right up to Heaven it went, to call down a blessing upon the Father of
his Country.

"The barge had scarcely gained the middle of the Hudson when the
trumpets were heard at Paulus Hook, where the Governor and the chivalry
of Jersey were in waiting to welcome the chief to those well-remembered
shores. Escorts of cavalry relieved each other throughout the whole
route up to the Pennsylvania line; every village, and even hamlet,
turned out its population to greet with cordial welcome the man upon
whom all eyes were fixed and in whom all hearts rejoiced.

"What must have been the recollections that crowded on the mind of
Washington during this triumphant progress? Newark, Brunswick,
Princeton, Trenton! What a contrast between the glorious burst of
sunshine that now illumined and made glad everything around these
memorable spots, with the gloomy and desolate remembrances of '76! Then
his country's champion, with the wreck of a shattered host, was flying
before a victorious and well-appointed foe, while all around him was
shrouded in the darkness of despair; now, in his glorious progress over
the self-same route, his firm footstep presses upon the soil of an
infant empire, reposing in the joys of peace, independence, and

"Among the many who swelled his triumph, the most endeared to the heart
of the chief were the old associates of his toils, his fortunes, and
his fame. Many of the Revolutionary veterans were living in 1790, and,
by their presence, gave a dignified tone and character to all public
assemblages; and when you saw a peculiarly fine-looking soldier in
those old days, and would ask: 'To what corps of the American army did
you belong?' drawing himself up to his full height, with a martial air,
and back of the hand thrown up to his forehead, the veteran would
reply: 'Life Guard, your honor.'

"And proud and happy were these veterans in again beholding their own
good Lady Washington. Greatly was she beloved in the army. Her many
intercessions with the chief for the pardon of offenders--her kindness
to the sick and wounded--all caused her annual arrival in camp to be
hailed as an event that would serve to dissipate the gloom of the
winter quarters.

"Arrived at the line, the Jersey escort was relieved by the cavalry of
Pennsylvania, and, when near to Philadelphia, the President was met by
Governor Mifflin and a brilliant cortege of officers, and escorted by a
squadron of horse to the city. Conspicuous among the Governors suite,
as well for his martial bearing as for the manly beauty of his person,
was General Walter Stewart, a son of Erin, and a gallant and
distinguished officer of the Pennsylvania line. To Stewart, as to
Cadwallader, Washington was most warmly attached; indeed, those
officers were among the very choicest of the contributions of
Pennsylvania to the army and cause of independence. Mifflin, small in
stature, was active, alert, 'every inch a soldier.' He was a patriot of
great influence in Pennsylvania in the 'times that tried men's souls,'
and nobly did he exert that influence in raising troops, with which to
reinforce the wreck of the grand army at the close of the campaign of

"Arrived within the city, the crowd became intense, the President left
his carriage and mounted the white charger, and, with the Governor on
his right, proceeded to the city tavern in Third street, where quarters
were prepared for him, the light infantry, after some time, having
opened a passage for the carriages. At the city tavern the President
was received by the authorities of Philadelphia, who welcomed the chief
magistrate to their city as to his home for the remainder of his
Presidential term. A group of old and long-tried friends were also in
waiting. Foremost among these, and first to grasp the hand of
Washington, was one who was always nearest to his heart, a patriot and
public benefactor, Robert Morris.

"After remaining a short time in Philadelphia, the President speeded on
his journey to that home where he ever found rest from his weighty
labors, and enjoyed the sweets of rural and domestic happiness amid his
farms and at his fireside of Mount Vernon."

Whenever Washington was residing at Mount Vernon, he was accustomed to
receive visits from his old and intimate friends, and to relieve his
mind from the cares of state by lively and familiar conversation, and
social and convivial intercourse. On one occasion, some years before
the period of which we are now writing, Mr. Drayton and Mr. Izard, of
South Carolina, were on a visit to Mount Vernon. [4]

After dinner, while the party were still sitting at table, the
conversation turned on Arnold's treason. Mr. Lear, Washington's private
secretary, was present, and after retiring he wrote down in his diary
Washington's own account of that remarkable incident in our history in
his own words. The extract from Mr. Lear's diary has recently been
published for the first time in Mr. Rush's "Washington in Domestic
Life." It is as follows:

"After dinner, Washington was, in the course of conversation, led to
speak of Arnold's treachery, when he gave the following account of it,
which I shall put in his own words, thus: 'I confess I had a good
opinion of Arnold before his treachery was brought to light; had that
not been the case I should have had some reason to suspect him sooner,
for when he commanded in Philadelphia, the Marquis Lafayette brought
accounts from France of the armament which was to be sent to cooperate
with us in the ensuing campaign. Soon after this was known, Arnold
pretended to have some private business to transact in Connecticut, and
on his way there he called at my quarters, and in the course of
conversation expressed a desire of quitting Philadelphia and joining
the army the ensuing campaign. I told him that it was probable we
should have a very active one, and that if his wound and state of
health would permit, I should be extremely glad of his services with
the army. He replied that he did not think his wound would permit him
to take a very active part, but still he persisted in his desire of
being with the army. He went on to Connecticut and on his return called
again upon me. He renewed his request of being with me next campaign,
and I made him the same answer I had done before. He again repeated
that he did not think his wound would permit him to do active duty, and
intimated a desire to have the command at West Point. I told him I did
not think that would suit him, as I should leave none in the garrison
but invalids, because it would be entirely covered by the main army.
The subject was dropped at that time, and he returned to Philadelphia.
It then appeared somewhat strange to me that a man of Arnold's known
activity and enterprise should be desirous of taking so inactive a
part. I however thought no more of the matter. When the French troops
arrived at Rhode Island, I had intelligence from New York that General
Clinton intended to make an attack upon them before they could get
themselves settled and fortified. In consequence of that I was
determined to attack New York, which would be left much exposed by his
drawing off the British troops, and accordingly formed my line of
battle and moved down with the whole army to King's ferry, which we
passed. Arnold came to camp that time, and, having no command, and
consequently no quarters (all the houses thereabouts being occupied by
the army), he was obliged to seek lodgings at some distance from the
camp. While the army was crossing at King's ferry I was going to see
the last detachment over, and met Arnold, who asked me if I had thought
of anything for him. I told him that he was to have the command of the
light troops, which was a post of honor, and which his rank indeed
entitled him to. Upon this information his countenance changed, and he
appeared to be quite fallen; and, instead of thanking me, or expressing
any pleasure at the appointment, never opened his mouth. I desired him
to go on to my quarters and get something to refresh himself, and I
would meet him there soon. He did so. Upon his arrival there he found
Colonel Tilghman, whom he took aside, and, mentioning what I had told
him, seemed to express great uneasiness at it--as his leg, he said,
would not permit him to be long on horseback, and intimated a great
desire to have the command at West Point. When I returned to my
quarters Colonel Tilghman informed me of what had passed. I made no
reply to it, but his behavior struck me as strange and unaccountable.
In the course of that night, however, I received information from New
York that General Clinton had altered his plan and was debarking his
troops. This information obliged me likewise to alter my disposition
and return to my former station, where I could better cover the
country. I then determined to comply with Arnold's desire, and
accordingly gave him the command of the garrison at West Point. Things
remained in this situation about a fortnight, when I wrote to the Count
Rochambeau, desiring to meet him at some intermediate place (as we
could neither of us be long enough from our respective commands to
visit the other), in order to lay the plan for the siege of Yorktown,
and proposed Hartford, where I accordingly went and met the count. On
my return I met the Chevalier Luzerne toward evening within about
fifteen miles of West Point (on his way to join the count at Rhode
Island), which I intended to reach that night, but he insisted upon
turning back with me to the next public house, where, in politeness to
him, I could not but stay all night, determining, however, to get to
West Point to breakfast very early. I sent off my baggage, and desired
Colonel Hamilton to go forward and inform General Arnold that I would
breakfast with him. Soon after he arrived at Arnold's quarters a letter
was delivered to Arnold which threw him into the greatest confusion. He
told Colonel Hamilton that something required his immediate attendance
at the garrison, which was on the opposite side of the river to his
quarters, and immediately ordered a horse to take him to the river, and
the barge, which he kept to cross, to be ready, and desired Major
Franks, his aide, to inform me when I should arrive that he was gone
over the river and would return immediately. When I got to his quarters
and did not find him there I desired Major Franks to order me some
breakfast, and, as I intended to visit the fortifications, I would see
General Arnold there. After I had breakfasted I went over the river,
and, inquiring for Arnold, the commanding officer told me that he had
not been there. I likewise inquired at the several redoubts, but no one
could give me any information where he was. The impropriety of his
conduct, when he knew I was to be there, struck me very forcibly, and
my mind misgave me, but I had not the least idea of the real cause.
When I returned to Arnold's quarters about two hours after, and told
Colonel Hamilton that I had not seen him, he gave me a packet which had
just arrived for me from Colonel Jemmison, which immediately brought
the matter to light. I ordered Colonel Hamilton to mount his horse and
proceed with the greatest dispatch to a post on the river about eight
miles below, in order to stop the barge if she had not passed, but it
was too late. It seems that the letter which Arnold received which
threw him into such confusion was from Colonel Jemmison, informing him
that Andre was taken, and that the papers found upon him were in his
possession. Colonel Jemmison, when Andre was taken with these papers,
could not believe that Arnold was a traitor, but rather thought it was
an imposition of the British in order to destroy our confidence in
Arnold. He, however, immediately on their being taken, dispatched an
express after me, ordering him to ride night and day till he came up
with me. The express went the lower road, which was the road by which I
had gone to Connecticut, expecting that I would return by the same
route, and that he would meet me, but before he had proceeded far he
was informed that I was returning by the upper road. He then cut across
the country and followed in my track till I arrived at West Point. He
arrived about two hours after and brought the above packet. When Arnold
got down to the barge, he ordered his men, who were very clever fellows
and some of the better sort of soldiery, to proceed immediately on
board the Vulture, sloop-of-war, as a flag, which was lying down the
river, saying that they must be very expeditious, as he must return in
a short time to meet me, and promised them two gallons of rum if they
would exert themselves. They did, accordingly, but when they got on
board the Vulture, instead of their two gallons of rum, he ordered the
coxswain to be called down into the cabin, and informed him that he and
the men must consider themselves as prisoners. The coxswain was very
much astonished, and told him that they came on board under the
sanction of a flag. He answered that that was nothing to the purpose;
they were prisoners. But the captain of the Vulture had more generosity
than this pitiful scoundrel, and told the coxswain that he would take
his parole for going on shore to get clothes, and whatever else was
wanted for himself and his companions. He accordingly came, got his
clothes, and returned on board. When they got to New York, General
Clinton, ashamed of so low and mean an action, set them all at

This narrative, from the lips of Washington himself, throws much
additional light on Arnold's treason. It is also interesting to the
general reader, as affording a specimen of Washington's style in
conversation, when the events of the Revolution formed the topic of

1. Footnote: On account of the great importance of this debate, we give
Marshall's synopsis of the arguments used on both sides. It brought up
the question of State rights as opposed to centralization for the first
time; and on many other accounts is particularly interesting for the
political reader, as well as for all who are curious respecting our
early colonial history.

2. Footnote: It has ever been understood that these members were, on
principle, in favor of the assumption as modified in the amendment made
by the Senate; but they withheld their assent from it when originally
proposed in the House of Representatives in the opinion that the
increase of the national debt added to the necessity of giving to the
departments of the national government a more central residence. It is
understood that a greater number would have changed had it been

3. Footnote: Marshall.

4. Footnote: October 23, 1786, was the date of Messrs. Drayton and
Izard's visit.



On his way from New York to Mount Vernon Washington stopped for a short
time, as we have seen, in Philadelphia. While there he addressed a
letter to his private secretary, Mr. Lear, which is interesting not
only for the information it contains respecting his residence, but from
its illustrating that remarkable attention to the details of business,
which we have already had occasion to notice.

"After a pleasant journey," he writes, "we arrived in this city on
Thursday last (September 2, 1790), and tomorrow we proceed--if Mrs.
Washington's health will permit, for she has been much indisposed since
we came here--toward Mount Vernon. The house of Mr. Robert Morris had,
previous to my arrival, been taken by the corporation for my residence.

"It is the best they could get. It is, I believe, the best single house
in the city. Yet without additions it is inadequate to the commodious
accommodation of my family. These additions, I believe, will be made.
The first floor contains only two public rooms (except one for the
upper servants). The second floor will have two public (drawing) rooms,
and with the aid of one room with a partition in it, in the back
building, will be sufficient for the use of Mrs. Washington and the
children, and their maids, besides affording her a small place for a
private study and dressing-room. The third story will furnish you and
Mrs. Lear with a good lodging-room, a public office (for there is no
room below for one), and two rooms for the gentlemen of the family. The
garret has four good rooms, which must serve Mr. and Mrs. Hyde
[2]--unless they should prefer the room over the workhouse--William,
and such servants as it may not be better to place in the proposed
additions to the back building. There is a room over the stable which
may serve the coachman and postillions, and there is a smokehouse,
which may possibly be more valuable for the use of servants than for
the smoking of meats. The intention of the addition to the back
building is to provide a servant's hall and one or two lodging-rooms
for the servants. There are good stables, but for twelve horses only,
and a coach-house, which will hold all my carriages. Speaking of
carriages, I have left my coach to receive a thorough repair, by the
time I return, which I expect will be before the 1st of December."

The Legislature, meantime, had appropriated for his residence an
elegant house in South Ninth street, which was taken down a few years
since, having been occupied by the University, and other buildings were
erected on the same lot for the same purpose. But Washington refused to
occupy the house offered by the State authorities, because he would not
live in a house which was not hired and paid for by himself. He was
desirous, however, to have the rent fixed before he entered the house,
and he wrote repeatedly to Mr. Lear from Mount Vernon to ascertain what
the rent would be. On the 14th of November, 1790, he wrote to Mr. Lear
as follows:

"I am, I must confess, exceedingly unwilling to go into any house
without first knowing on what terms I do it, and wish that this
sentiment could be again hinted in delicate terms to the parties
concerned with me. I cannot, if there are no latent motives which
govern in this case, see any difficulty in the business. Mr. Morris has
most assuredly formed an idea of what ought in equity to be the rent of
the tenement in the condition he left it, and with this aid the
committee ought, I conceive, to be as little at a loss in determining
what it should rent for, with the additions and alterations which are
about to be made, and which ought to be done in a plain and neat, not
by any means in an extravagant style, because the latter is not only
contrary to my wish but would really be detrimental to my interest and
convenience, principally because it would be the means of keeping me
out of the use and comforts of the house to a late period, and because
the furniture and everything else would require to be accordant
therewith, besides making me pay an extravagant price, perhaps to
accommodate the alterations to the taste of another or to the
exorbitant rates of workmen.

"I do not know, nor do I believe, that anything unfair is intended by
either Mr. Morris or the committee, but let us for a moment suppose
that the rooms (the new ones I mean) were to be hung with tapestry or a
very rich and costly paper, neither of which would suit my present
furniture; that costly ornaments for the bow windows, extravagant
chimney-pieces, and the like were to be provided; that workmen, from
extravagance of the times for every twenty shillings' worth of work
would charge forty shillings, and that advantage should be taken of the
occasion to new paint every part of the house and buildings, would
there be any propriety in adding ten or twelve and a half per cent. for
all this to the rent of the house in its original state for the two
years that I am to hold it? If the solution of these questions is in
the negative, wherein lies the difficulty of determining that the
houses and lots, when finished according to the proposed plan, ought to
rent for so much? When all is done that can be done, the residence will
not be so commodious as the house I left in New York, for there (and
the want of it will be found a real inconvenience at Mr. Morris') my
office was in a front room below, where persons on business were at
once admitted, whereas now they will have to ascend two pair of stairs
and to pass by the public rooms to go to it. Notwithstanding which I am
willing to allow as much as was paid to Mr. Macomb, and shall say
nothing if more is demanded, unless there is apparent extortion or the
policy of delay is to see to what height rents will rise before mine is
fixed. In either of these cases I should not be pleased, and to occupy
the premises at the expense of any public body I will not.

"I had rather have heard that my repaired coach was plain and elegant
than rich and elegant."

The rent of Mr. Morris' house was finally settled at $3,000 a year, and
at this rate it was occupied by Washington till the expiration of his
second term as President and his final retirement to Mount Vernon.

Our readers will excuse us for dwelling a little longer on the domestic
arrangements of Washington, as disclosed in his letters to Mr. Lear.
These details are not only curious and entertaining, as showing the
style of living half a century ago, but as exhibiting the modest and
economical style in which Washington chose to live; and they refute the
calumnies of his political enemies, who, a little later, charged him
with anti-republican state and splendor in his style of living. One of
his letters to Mr. Lear relates to the servants. "The pressure of
business," he writes, "under which I labored for several days before I
left New York, allowed me no time to inquire who of the female servants
it was proposed or thought advisable to remove here, besides the wives
of the footmen, James and Fidas. With respect to Mr. Hyde and his wife,
if it is not stated on some paper handed in by Mr. Hyde, it is
nevertheless strong on my recollection that his wife's services were
put down at $100 and his own at $200 per annum. I have no wish to part
with Mr. or Mrs. Hyde; first, because I do not like to be changing,
and, second, because I do not know where or with whom to supply their
places. On the score of accounts I can say nothing, having never taken
a comparative view of his and Fraunces', but I am exceedingly mistaken
if the expenses of the second table, at which Mr. Hyde presides, have
not greatly exceeded those of the tables kept by Fraunces, for I
strongly suspect (but in this I may be mistaken) that nothing is
brought to my table of liquors, fruits, or other luxuries that is not
used as profusely at his. If my suspicions are unfounded I shall be
sorry to have entertained them, and if they are not, it is at least
questionable whether under his successor the same things might not be
done; in which case (if Hyde is honest and careful, of which you are
better able to judge than I am), a change without benefit might take
place, which is not desirable if they are to be retained on proper
terms. I say they, for if Mrs. Hyde is necessary for the purposes
enumerated in your letter, and the cook is not competent to prepare the
dessert, make cake, etc., I do not see of what use Hyde will be, more
than William, without her. Fraunces, besides being an excellent cook,
knowing how to provide genteel dinners, and giving aid in dressing
them, prepared the dessert, made the cake, and did everything that is
done by Hyde and his wife together; consequently the services of Hyde
alone are not to be compared with those of Fraunces; and if his
accounts exceed those of Fraunces, in the same seasons--L4 or L5 a
week--and at the same time appear fair, I shall have no scruple to
acknowledge that I have entertained much harder thoughts of him than I
ought to have done, although it is unaccountable to me how other
families, on $2,500 or $3,000 a year, should be enabled to entertain
more company or at least entertain more frequently than I could do for

Respecting the furniture, Washington writes: "Mr. and Mrs. Morris have
insisted upon leaving the two large looking-glasses which are in their
best rooms, because they have no place, they say, proper to remove them
to, and because they are unwilling to hazard the taking of them down.
You will, therefore, let them have, instead, the choice of mine; the
large ones I purchased of the French minister they do not incline to
take, but will be glad of some of the others. They will also leave a
large glass lamp in the entry or hall, and will take one or more of my
glass lamps in lieu of it. Mrs. Morris has a mangle (I think it is
called) for ironing clothes, which, as it is fixed in the place where
it is commonly used, she proposes to leave and take mine. To this I
have no objection, provided mine is equally good and convenient; but if
I should obtain any advantages, besides that of its being up and ready
for use, I am not inclined to receive it.

"I have no particular direction to give respecting the appropriation of
the furniture. By means of the bow-windows the back rooms will become
the largest, and, of course, will receive the furniture of the largest
dining and drawing-rooms; and in that case, though there are no closets
in them, there are some in the steward's room, directly opposite, which
are not inconvenient. There is a small room adjoining the kitchen that
might, if it is not essential for other purposes, be appropriated for
the Sevres china and other things of that sort, which are not in common

"Mrs. Morris, who is a notable lady in family arrangements, can give
you much information on all the conveniences about the house and
buildings, and I dare say would rather consider it as a compliment to
be consulted in these matters, as she is so near, than a trouble to
give her opinion of them.

"I approve, at least till inconvenience or danger shall appear, of the
large table ornaments remaining on the sideboard, and of the pagodas
standing in the smallest drawing-room. Had I delivered my sentiment
from here, respecting this fixture, that is the apartment I should have
named for it. Whether the green, which you have, or a new yellow
curtain, should be appropriated to the staircase above the hall may
depend on your getting an exact match in color and so forth of the
latter. For the sake of appearances one would not, in instances of this
kind, regard a small additional expense."

In these letters, written to Mr. Lear during Washington's residence at
Mount Vernon, in the autumn of 1790, he frequently refers to the
children under Mrs. Washington's care, who composed a part of the
family. In a letter, dated October 3d, he requests Mr. Lear to make
inquiries respecting the schools in Philadelphia, with a view to
placing Washington Custis, Mrs. Washington's grandson, at the best. If
the college is under good regulations, he inquires if it would not be
better to put him there at once. Again, in a letter dated October 10th,
after speaking of the proper care and instruction of his niece, Miss
Harriet Washington, when he should be established in Philadelphia, he
refers again to Washington Custis' education, whom he had adopted as a
son, and in whom he appears to have taken great interest. [3] He also
wishes inquiry to be made as to the higher branches taught at the
college, with a view to placing his nephews, George and Lawrence
Washington, at that institution in Philadelphia. Having studied the
languages, they are engaged, he adds, under Mr. Harrow, in Alexandria,
in learning mathematics and French. In a letter dated November 7, 1790,
Washington expresses renewed anxiety respecting the education of his
adopted son, Washington Custis, who appears to have been about eight
years old at this time, and discusses the question of placing him at
the college, if his age will admit of it.

On the 17th of November (1790), Washington, writing from Mount Vernon
to Mr. Lear at Philadelphia, mentions that he is just setting out for
Alexandria to a public dinner given to him by the citizens of that
place. In his letter of November 23d, he dates from a tavern on the
road, about twelve miles from Baltimore. He was then on his journey
from Mount Vernon to Philadelphia in his own traveling carriage with
Mrs. Washington, the children, and the servants in attendance on the
children, accompanying them in a stage-coach hired for their

The party arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday, the 28th of November
(1790), and immediately took possession of the house which had been
hired for the accommodation of the President and his family. The
members of Congress and other public functionaries were mostly at their
posts, and a crowd of strangers were resorting to the city, in
expectation of the gay and brilliant pleasures and society which are
usual in the metropolis in the winter season.

In the President's family, "the rules for receiving visitors and
entertaining company," says Dr. Griswold, [4] "continued to be very
nearly the same as in New York. Respectable citizens and strangers,
properly introduced, were seen by the President every other Tuesday,
between the hours of 3 and 4 in the afternoon. The receptions were in
the dining-room, on the first floor, in the back part of the house. At
3 o'clock, all the chairs having been removed, the door was opened, and
the President, usually surrounded by members of his cabinet, or other
distinguished men, was seen by the approaching visitor standing before
the fireplace, his hair powdered and gathered behind in a silk bag,
coat and breeches of plain black velvet, white or pearl-colored vest,
yellow gloves, a cocked hat in his hand, silver knee and shoe-buckles,
and a long sword, with a finely-wrought and glittering steel hilt, the
coat worn over it, and its scabbard of polished white leather. On these
occasions he never shook hands, even with his most intimate friends.
The name of everyone was distinctly announced, and he rarely forgot
that of a person who had been once introduced to him. The visitor was
received with a dignified bow and passed on to another part of the
room. At a quarter past 3 the door was closed, the gentlemen present
moved into a circle, and he proceeded, beginning at his right hand, to
exchange a few words with each. When the circuit was completed he
resumed his first position and the visitors approached him in
succession, bowed, and retired.

"At the levees of Mrs. Washington he did not consider any visits made
to himself, and he appeared as a private gentleman, with neither hat
nor sword, conversing without restraint, generally with women, who
rarely had other opportunities of meeting him."

Congress assembled for its third session on the 6th of December, 1790,
the day which had been appointed by adjournment. But the members had
not yet learned to be punctual in their attendance, and it was not till
the 8th that a sufficient number took their seats to authorize their
entering upon the business of the session. Among the members we
recognize some celebrated names. From Massachusetts were Elbridge
Gerry, afterward Vice-President of the United States, and Fisher Ames,
one of the most illustrious of American orators; from Connecticut, the
veteran statesman, Roger Sherman; from New Jersey, the philanthropist,
Elias Boudinot; from Pennsylvania, Peter and Frederick Augustus
Muhlenberg and George Clymer; from Virginia, James Madison; from North
Carolina, Hugh Williamson, and from Georgia, Gen. James Jackson. This
is but a portion of the strong array of historical names which adorned
the First Congress of the United States under the constitution.

In his speech delivered to Congress at the commencement of their third
session, Washington expressed much satisfaction at the favorable
prospect of public affairs, and particularly noticed the progress of
public credit and the productiveness of the revenue.

Adverting to foreign nations, he said: "The disturbed situation of
Europe, and particularly the critical posture of the great maritime
powers, whilst it ought to make us more thankful for the general peace
and security enjoyed by the United States, reminds us at the same time
of the circumspection with which it becomes us to preserve these
blessings. It requires, also, that we should not overlook the tendency
of a war, and even of preparations for war, among the nations most
concerned in active commerce with this country, to abridge the means
and thereby, at least, to enhance the price of transporting its
valuable productions to their proper market." To the serious reflection
of Congress was recommended the prevention of embarrassments from these
contingencies, by such encouragement to American navigation as would
render the commerce and agriculture of the United States less dependent
on foreign bottoms.

After expressing to the House of Representatives his confidence arising
from the sufficiency of the revenues already established, for the
objects to which they were appropriated, he added: "Allow me moreover
to hope that it will be a favorite policy with you not merely to secure
a payment of the interest of the debt funded, but, as far and as fast
as the growing resources of the country will permit, to exonerate it of
the principal itself." Many subjects relative to the interior
government were succinctly and briefly mentioned, and the speech
concluded with the following impressive and admonitory sentiment: "In
pursuing the various and weighty business of the present session, I
indulge the fullest persuasion that your consultations will be marked
with wisdom and animated by the love of country. In whatever belongs to
my duty you shall have all the cooperation which an undiminished zeal
for its welfare can inspire. It will be happy for us both, and our best
reward, if, by a successful administration of our respective trusts, we
can make the established government more and more instrumental in
promoting the good of our fellow-citizens, and more and more the object
of their attachment and confidence."

The addresses of the two Houses, in answer to the speech, proved that
the harmony between the executive and legislative departments, with
which the government had gone into operation, had sustained no
essential interruption. But in the short debate which took place on the
occasion in the House of Representatives a direct disapprobation of one
of the measures of the executive government was, for the first time,
openly expressed.

In the treaty lately concluded with the Creek Indians, an extensive
territory claimed by Georgia, under treaties, the validity of which was
contested by the chiefs, had been entirely, or in great part,
relinquished. This relinquishment excited serious discontents in that
State and was censured by General Jackson, with considerable warmth, as
an unjustifiable abandonment of the rights and interests of Georgia. No
specific motion, however, was made, and the subject was permitted to
pass away for the present.

Scarcely were the debates on the address concluded when several
interesting reports were received from Hamilton, the Secretary of the
Treasury, suggesting such further measures as were deemed necessary for
the establishment of public credit.

It will be recollected that, in his original report on this subject,
the secretary had recommended the assumption of the State debts and had
proposed to enable the treasury to meet the increased demand upon it,
which this measure would occasion, by an augmentation of the duties on
imported wines, spirits, tea, and coffee and by imposing duties on
spirits distilled within the country. The assumption not having been
adopted until late in the session, the discussion on the revenue which
would be required for this portion of the public debt did not commence
until the House had become impatient for an adjournment. As much
contrariety of opinion was disclosed, and the subject was not of
immediate importance, it was deferred to the ensuing session, and an
order was made requiring the Secretary of the Treasury to prepare and
report such further provision as might, in his opinion, be necessary
for establishing the public credit. In obedience to this order, several
reports had been prepared, the first of which repeated the
recommendation of an additional impost on foreign distilled spirits and
of a duty on spirits distilled within the United States. The estimated
revenue from these sources was $877,500, affording a small excess over
the sum which would be required to pay the interest on the assumed
debt. The policy of the measure was discussed in a well-digested and
able argument, detailing many motives, in addition to those assigned in
his original report, for preferring the system now recommended to
accumulated burdens on commerce or to a direct tax on lands.

A new tax is the certain rallying point for all those who are
unfriendly to the administration or to the minister by whom it is
proposed. But that recommended by the secretary contained intrinsic
causes of objection which would necessarily add to the number of its
enemies. All that powerful party in the United States which attached
itself to the local rather than to the general government, would
inevitably contemplate any system of internal revenue with jealous
disapprobation. They considered the imposition of a tax by Congress on
any domestic manufacture as the intrusion of a foreign power into their
particular concerns, which excited serious apprehensions for State
importance and for liberty. In the real or supposed interests of many
individuals was also found a distinct motive for hostility to the
measure. A large portion of the American population, especially that
which had spread itself over the extensive regions of the West,
consuming imported articles to a very inconsiderable amount, was not
much affected by the impost on foreign merchandise. But the duty on
spirits distilled within the United States reached them, and
consequently rendered them hostile to the tax.

A bill which was introduced in pursuance of the report (1791) was
opposed with great vehemence by a majority of the southern and western
members. By some of them it was insisted that no sufficient testimony
had yet been exhibited that the taxes already imposed would not be
equal to the exigencies of the public. But, admitting the propriety of
additional burdens on the people, it was contended that other sources
of revenue less exceptionable and less odious than this might be
pointed out. The duty was branded with the hateful epithet of an
excise, a species of taxation, it was said, so peculiarly oppressive as
to be abhorred even in England, and which was totally incompatible with
the spirit of liberty. The facility with which it might be extended to
other objects was urged against its admission into the American system,
and declarations made against it by the Congress of 1775 were quoted in
confirmation of the justice with which inherent vices were ascribed to
this mode of collecting taxes. So great was the hostility manifested
against it in some of the States that the revenue officers might be
endangered from the fury of the people, and in all it would increase a
ferment which had been already extensively manifested.

When required to produce a system in lieu of that which they objected
to, the opponents of the bill alternately mentioned an increased duty
on imported articles generally, a particular duty on molasses, a direct
tax, a tax on salaries, pensions, and lawyers, a duty on newspapers,
and a stamp act. The friends of the bill contended that the reasons for
believing the existing revenue would be insufficient to meet the
engagements of the United States were as satisfactory as the nature of
the case would admit or as ought to be required. The estimates were
founded on the best data which were attainable, and the funds already
provided had been calculated by the proper officer to pay the interest
on that part of the debt only for which they were pledged. Those
estimates were referred to as documents from which it would be unsafe
to depart. They were also in possession of official statements showing
the productiveness of the taxes from the time the revenue bill had been
in operation, and arguments were drawn from these demonstrating the
danger to which the infant credit of the United States would be exposed
by relying on the existing funds for the interest on the assumed debt.
It was not probable that the proposed duties would yield a sum much
exceeding that which would be necessary, but should they fortunately do
so, the surplus revenue might be advantageously employed in
extinguishing a part of the principal. They were not, they said, of
opinion that a public debt was a public blessing, or that it ought to
be perpetuated. An augmentation of the revenue being indispensable to
the solidity of the public credit, a more eligible system than that
proposed in the bill could not, it was believed, be devised. Still
further to burden commerce would be a hazardous experiment, which might
afford no real supplies to the treasury. Until some lights should be
derived from experience, it behooved the Legislature to be cautious not
to lay such impositions upon trade as might probably introduce a spirit
of smuggling, which, with a nominal increase, would occasion a real
diminution of revenue. In the opinion of the best judges, the impost on
the mass of foreign merchandise could not safely be carried further for
the present. The extent of the mercantile capital of the United States
would not justify the attempt. Forcible arguments were also drawn from
the policy and the justice of multiplying the subjects of taxation and
diversifying them by a union of internal with external objects.

Neither would a direct tax be advisable. The experience of the world
had proved that a tax on consumption was less oppressive and more
productive than a tax on either property or income. Without discussing
the principles on which the fact was founded, the fact itself was
incontestable that, by insensible means, much larger sums might be
drawn from any class of men than could be extracted from them by open
and direct taxes.

Against the substitution of a duty on internal negotiations, it was
said that revenue to any considerable extent could be collected from
them only by means of a stamp act, which was not less obnoxious to
popular resentment than an excise, would be less certainly productive
than the proposed duties, and was, in every respect, less eligible.

The honor, the justice, and the faith of the United States were
pledged, it was said, to that class of creditors for whose claims the
bill under consideration was intended to provide. No means of making
the provision had been suggested, which, on examination, would be found
equally eligible with a duty on ardent spirits. Much of the public
prejudice which appeared in certain parts of the United States against
the measure was to be ascribed to their hostility to the term "excise,"
a term which had been inaccurately applied to the duty in question.
When the law should be carried into operation, it would be found not to
possess those odious qualities which had excited resentment against a
system of excise. In those States where the collection of a duty on
spirits distilled within the country had become familiar to the people,
the same prejudices did not exist. On the good sense and virtue of the
nation they could confidently rely for acquiescence in a measure which
the public exigencies rendered necessary, which tended to equalize the
public burdens and which, in its execution, would not be oppressive.

A motion made by General Jackson to strike out that section which
imposed a duty on domestic distilled spirits was negatived by 36 to 16,
and the bill was carried by 35 to 21. Some days after the passage of
this bill another question was brought forward which was understood to
involve principles of deep interest to the government.

Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, had been the uniform advocate
of a national bank. Believing that such an institution would be "of
primary importance to the prosperous administration of the finances and
of the greatest utility in the operations connected with the support of
public credit," he had earnestly recommended its adoption in the first
general system which he presented to the view of Congress, and, at the
present session, had repeated that recommendation in a special report,
containing a copious and perspicuous argument on the policy of the
measure. A bill conforming to the plan he suggested was sent down from
the Senate and was permitted to proceed, unmolested, in the House of
Representatives, to the third reading. On the final question a great,
and, it would seem, an unexpected opposition was made to its passage.
Mr. Madison, Mr. Giles, General Jackson, and Mr. Stone spoke against
it. The general utility of banking systems was not admitted, and the
particular bill before the House was censured on its merits; but the
great strength of the argument was directed against the constitutional
authority of Congress to pass an act for incorporating a national bank.

The government of the United States, it was said, was limited, and the
powers which it might legitimately exercise were enumerated in the
constitution itself. In this enumeration the power now contended for
was not to be found. Not being expressly given it must be implied from
those which were given or it could not be vested in the government. The
clauses under which it could be claimed were then reviewed and
critically examined, and it was contended that, on fair construction,
no one of these could be understood to imply so important a power as
that of creating a corporation.

The clause which enables Congress to pass all laws necessary and proper
to execute the specified powers must, according to the natural and
obvious force of the terms and the context, be limited to means
necessary to the end and incident to the nature of the specified
powers. The clause, it was said, was in fact merely declaratory of what
would have resulted by unavoidable implication, as the appropriate, and
as it were technical, means of executing those powers. Some members
observed that "the true exposition of a necessary mean to produce a
given end was that mean without which the end could not be produced."

The bill was supported by Mr. Ames, Mr. Sedgwick, Mr. Smith, of South
Carolina, Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Boudinot, Mr. Gerry, and Mr. Vining.

The utility of banking institutions was said to be demonstrated by
their effects. In all commercial countries they had been resorted to as
an instrument of great efficacy in mercantile transactions; and even in
the United States their public and private advantages had been felt and

Respecting the policy of the measure no well-founded doubt could be
entertained, but the objections to the constitutional authority of
Congress deserved to be seriously considered.

That the government was limited by the terms of its creation was not
controverted; and that it could exercise only those powers which were
conferred on it by the constitution was admitted. If, on examination,
that instrument should be found to forbid the passage of the bill, it
must be rejected, though it would be with deep regret that its friends
would suffer such an opportunity of serving their country to escape for
the want of a constitutional power to improve it.

In asserting the authority of the Legislature to pass the bill it was
contended that incidental as well as express powers must necessarily
belong to every government, and that, when a power is delegated to
effect particular objects, all the known and usual means of effecting
them must pass as incidental to it. To remove all doubts on this
subject, the constitution of the United States had recognized the
principle by enabling Congress to make all laws which may be necessary
and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested in the
government. They maintained the sound construction of this grant to be
a recognition of an authority in the national Legislature to employ all
the known and usual means for executing the powers vested in the
government. They then took a comprehensive view of those powers and
contended that a bank was a known and usual instrument by which several
of them were exercised.

After a debate of great length, which was supported on both sides with
ability and with that ardor which was naturally excited by the
importance attached by each party to the principle in contest, the
question was put and the bill was carried in the affirmative by a
majority of nineteen votes.

The point which had been agitated with so much zeal in the House of
Representatives was examined with equal deliberation by the executive.
The cabinet was divided upon it. Jefferson, the Secretary of State, and
Randolph, the Attorney-General, conceived that Congress had clearly
transcended their constitutional powers, while Hamilton, the Secretary
of the Treasury, with equal clearness, maintained the opposite opinion.
The advice of each minister, with his reasoning in support of it, was
required in writing, and their arguments were considered by the
President with all that attention which the magnitude of the question
and the interest taken in it by the opposing parties so eminently
required. This deliberate investigation of the subject terminated in a
conviction that the constitution of the United States authorized the
measure, and the sanction of the Executive was given to the act. [5]

In February, 1791, Vermont, having, in convention, adopted the
constitution of the United States, was admitted to the Union. The
result of the census of the United States, which had been ordered in
1790, was a total of 3,929,827 souls, of whom 697,897 were slaves.

Besides the establishment of the Bank of the United States and the
passage of the excise law, Congress resolved upon having a mint for the
national coinage; it authorized an increase of the army and the raising
a military force to resist the Indians, and provided for the
maintenance of these additional troops; it also appropriated above
$1,200,000 to various branches of the public service, making the
expenses of the year $4,000,000, part of which had to be met by loans,
since the surplus of the former year had been applied to the paying off
part of the national debt, as a former act of Congress had directed. We
may mention, in this connection, that the exports of the year were
computed to amount to some $19,000,000 and the imports to about

Among the last acts of the present Congress, as already mentioned, was
an act to augment the military establishment of the United States.

The earnest endeavors of Washington to give security to the
northwestern frontiers, by pacific arrangements, having been entirely
unavailing, it became his duty to employ such other means as were
placed in his hands for the protection of the country. Confirmed by all
his experience in the opinion that vigorous offensive operations alone
could bring an Indian war to a happy conclusion, he had planned an
expedition against the hostile tribes northwest of the Ohio as soon as
the impracticability of effecting a treaty with them had been

General Harmar, a veteran of the Revolution, who had received his
appointment under the former government, was placed at the head of the
Federal troops. On the 30th of September (1790) he marched from Fort
Washington with 320 regulars. The whole army, when joined by the
militia of Pennsylvania and Kentucky, amounted to 1,453 men. About the
middle of October Colonel Harden, who commanded the Kentucky militia,
and who had been also a continental officer of considerable merit, was
detached at the head of 600 men, chiefly militia, to reconnoiter the
ground and to ascertain the intentions of the enemy. On his approach
the Indians set fire to their principal village and fled with
precipitation to the wood. As the object of the expedition would be
only half accomplished unless the savages could be brought to action
and defeated, Colonel Harden was again detached at the head of 210 men,
30 of whom were regulars. About ten miles west of Chilicothe, where the
main body of the army lay, he was attacked by a party of Indians. The
Pennsylvanians, who composed his left column, had previously fallen in
the rear, and the Kentuckians, disregarding the exertions of their
colonel and of a few other officers, fled on the first appearance of
the enemy. The small corps of regulars, commanded by Lieutenant
Armstrong, made a brave resistance. After twenty-three of them had
fallen in the field the surviving seven made their escape and rejoined
the army.

Notwithstanding this check the remaining towns on the Scioto were
reduced to ashes, and the provisions laid up for the winter were
entirely destroyed. This service being accomplished the army commenced
its march toward Fort Washington. Being desirous of wiping off the
disgrace which his arms had sustained, General Harmar halted about
eight miles from Chilicothe and once more detached Colonel Harden with
orders to find the enemy and bring on an engagement. His command
consisted of 360 men, of whom 60 were regulars, commanded by Major
Wyllys. Early the next morning this detachment reached the confluence
of the St. Joseph and St. Mary, where it was divided into three
columns. The left division, commanded by Colonel Harden in person,
crossed the St. Joseph and proceeded up its western bank. The center,
consisting of the Federal troops, was led by Major Wyllys up the
eastern side of that river, and the right, under the command of Major
M'Millan, marched along a range of heights which commanded the right
flank of the center division. The columns had proceeded but a short
distance when each was met by a considerable body of Indians, and a
severe engagement ensued. The militia retrieved their reputation, and
several of their bravest officers fell. The heights on the right having
been, from some cause not mentioned, unoccupied by the American troops,
the savages seized them early in the action, and attacked the right
flank of the center with great fury. Although Major Wyllys was among
the first who fell the battle was maintained by the regulars with
spirit, and considerable execution was done on both sides. At length
the scanty remnant of this small band, quite overpowered by numbers,
was driven off the ground, leaving fifty of their comrades, exclusive
of Major Wyllys and Lieutenant Farthingham, dead upon the field. The
loss sustained by the militia was also considerable. It amounted to
upwards of 100 men, among whom were nine officers. After an engagement
of extreme severity the detachment joined the main army, which
continued its march to Fort Washington.

General Harmar, with what propriety it is not easy to discern, claimed
the victory. He conceived, not entirely without reason, that the loss
of a considerable number of men would be fatal to the Indians, although
a still greater loss should be sustained by the Americans, because the
savages did not possess a population from which they could replace the
warriors who had fallen. The event, however, did not justify this

The information respecting this expedition was quickly followed by
intelligence stating the deplorable condition of the frontiers. An
address from the representatives of all the counties of Virginia, and
those of Virginia bordering on the Ohio, was presented to the
President, praying that the defense of the country might be committed
to militia unmixed with regulars, and that they might immediately be
drawn out to oppose "the exulting foe." To this address the President
gave a conciliatory answer, but he understood too well the nature of
the service to yield to the request it contained. Such were his
communications to the Legislature that a regiment was added to the
permanent military establishment, and he was authorized to raise a body
of 2,000 men for six months, and to appoint a major-general, and a
brigadier-general, to continue in command so long as he should think
their services necessary.

With the 3d of March, 1791, terminated the first Congress elected under
the constitution of the United States. "The party denominated Federal,"
says Marshall, "having prevailed at the elections, a majority of the
members were steadfast friends of the Constitution, and were sincerely
desirous of supporting a system they had themselves introduced, and on
the preservation of which, in full health and vigor, they firmly
believed the happiness of their fellow-citizens, and the respectability
of the nation, greatly to depend. To organize a government, to retrieve
the national character, to establish a system of revenue, and to create
public credit, were among the arduous duties which were imposed upon
them by the political situation of their country. With persevering
labor, guided by no inconsiderable portion of virtue and intelligence,
these objects were, in a great degree, accomplished. Out of the
measures proposed for their attainment, questions alike intricate and
interesting unavoidably arose. It is not in the nature of man to
discuss such questions without strongly agitating the passions, and
exciting irritations which do not readily subside.

"Had it ever been the happy and singular lot of America to see its
national Legislature assemble uninfluenced by those prejudices which
grew out of the previous divisions of the country, the many delicate
points which they were under the necessity of deciding, could not have
failed to disturb this enviable state of harmony, and to mingle some
share of party spirit with their deliberations. But when the actual
state of the public mind was contemplated, and due weight was given to
the important consideration that at no very distant day a successor to
the present chief magistrate must be elected, it was still less to be
hoped that the first Congress could pass away without producing strong
and permanent dispositions in parties, to impute to each other designs
unfriendly to the public happiness. As yet, however, these imputations
did not extend to the President. His character was held sacred, and the
purity of his motives was admitted by all. Some divisions were
understood to have found their way into the cabinet. It was insinuated
that between the Secretaries of State and of the Treasury very serious
differences had arisen, but these high personages were believed to be
equally attached to the President, who was not suspected of undue
partiality to either. If his assent to the bill for incorporating the
national bank produced discontent, the opponents of that measure seemed
disposed to ascribe his conduct, in that instance, to his judgment,
rather than to any prepossession in favor of the party by whom it was
carried. The opposition, therefore, in Congress, to the measures of the
government, seemed to be levelled at the Secretary of the Treasury, and
at the northern members by whom those measures were generally
supported, not at the President by whom they were approved. By taking
this direction it made its way into the public mind, without being
encountered by that devoted affection which a great majority of the
people felt for the chief magistrate of the Union. In the meantime, the
national prosperity was in a state of rapid progress; and the
government was gaining, though slowly, in the public opinion. But in
several of the State assemblies, especially in the southern division of
the continent, serious evidences of dissatisfaction were exhibited,
which demonstrated the jealousy with which the local sovereignties
contemplated the powers exercised by the Federal Legislature."

A recent writer, speaking of the discussions in the cabinet respecting
the bill establishing a national bank, says:

"Jefferson and Randolph were of opinion that Congress, in passing the
bill, transcended the powers vested in them by the constitution.
Hamilton, on the other hand, maintained it to be purely constitutional.

"It was not an easy task to unite two men of such opposite natures as
Hamilton and Jefferson, and make them act in concert in the same
cabinet. The critical state of affairs at the first adoption of the
constitution, and the impartial preponderance of Washington alone could
accomplish it. He applied himself to it with consummate perseverance
and wisdom. At heart he felt a decided preference for Hamilton and his
views. 'By some,' said he, 'he is considered an ambitious man and
therefore a dangerous one. That he is ambitious I readily grant, but
his ambition is of that laudable kind which prompts a man to excel in
whatever he takes in hand. He is enterprising, quick in his
perceptions, and in his judgment intuitively great.'

"But it was only in 1798, in the freedom of retirement, that Washington
spoke so explicitly. While in office, and between his two secretaries,
he maintained toward them a strict reserve, and testified the same
confidence in both. He believed both of them to be sincere and able;
both of them necessary to the country and to himself. Jefferson was to
him, not only a connecting tie, a means of influence with the popular
party which rarely became the opposition; but he made use of him in the
internal administration of his government as a counterpoise to the
tendencies, and especially to the language, sometimes extravagant and
inconsiderate, of Hamilton and his friends. He had interviews and
consultations with each of them separately, upon the subjects which
they were to discuss together, in order to remove or lessen beforehand
their differences of opinion. He knew how to turn the merit and
popularity of each, with his own party, to the general good of the
government, even to their own mutual advantage. He skilfully availed
himself of every opportunity to employ them in a common responsibility.
And when a disagreement too wide, and passions too impetuous, seemed to
threaten an immediate rupture, he interposed, used exhortation and
entreaty, and by his personal influence, by a frank and touching appeal
to the patriotism and right-mindedness of the two rivals, he postponed
the breaking forth of the evil which it was not possible to eradicate.
On the bank question he required from each his arguments in writing,
and after maturely weighing them both, he gave the sanction of his
signature to the act passed by Congress for its incorporation. From the
moment of the incorporation of the Bank of the United States parties
assumed the almost perfect forms of organization and principles by
which they are marked in our own day. The arguments and imputations of
the Republican party, however, were not so much intended to apply to
Washington and his measures as to Hamilton, who was considered and
acknowledged by all as the head of the Federal party. This fact was
sufficiently proved when Washington, at the close of the session of
Congress, made an excursion into the southern States. His reception by
men of all parties was ample testimony of the fact that he united all
hearts, and that, however the measures or the constitution of
government might be censured and disapproved, none would refuse to pour
the grateful homage of free hearts into the bosom of their veteran
chief." Of this excursion we shall give an account in the next chapter.

1. Footnote: This house was in Market street, on the south side, near
Sixth street. The market-house buildings then reached only to Fourth
street; the town in this street extended westward scarcely so far as
Ninth street; good private dwellings were seen above Fifth street; Mr.
Morris' was perhaps the best; the garden was well enclosed by a
wall.--(Richard Rush, "Washington in Domestic Life," from Original
Letters and Manuscripts. Philadelphia, 1857.)

2. Footnote: Mr. Hyde was butler.

3. Footnote: Mr. Curtis was the writer of the "Reminiscences" we have
so frequently quoted. He died on the 10th of October, 1857, aged
seventy-six years.

4. Footnote: Republican Court.

5. Footnote: Marshall.



Washington, having received from Congress more ample means for the
protection of the frontiers against the Indians, now directed his
attention (March, 1791) to an expedition which should carry the war
into their own country; this, as we have already seen, being his
favorite method of dealing with Indian hostilities. He accordingly
appointed Maj.-Gen. Arthur St. Clair, governor of the territory
northwest of the Ohio, commander-in-chief of the forces to be employed
in the meditated expedition. This officer had served through the war of
the Revolution with reputation, though it had never been his fortune to
distinguish himself. The evacuation of Ticonderoga had indeed, at one
time, subjected him to much public censure, but it was found, upon
inquiry, to be unmerited. Other motives, in addition to the persuasion
of his fitness for the service, induced Washington to appoint him. With
the sword, the olive branch was still to be tendered, and it was
thought advisable to place them in the same hands. The governor, having
been made officially the negotiator with the tribes inhabiting the
territories over which he presided, being a military man acquainted
with the country into which the war was to be carried, possessing
considerable influence with the inhabitants of the frontiers, and being
so placed as to superintend the preparations for the expedition
advantageously, seemed to have claims to the station which were not to
be overlooked. It was also a consideration of some importance that the
high rank he had held in the American army would obviate those
difficulties in filling the inferior grades with men of experience,
which might certainly be expected should a person who had acted in a
less elevated station be selected for the chief command.

After making the necessary arrangements for recruiting the army
Washington prepared to make his long contemplated tour through the
southern States.

On the 19th of March (1791), in writing to Lafayette, he says: "The
tender concern which you express on my late illness awakens emotions
which words will not explain, and to which your own sensibility can
best do justice. My health is now quite restored, and I flatter myself
with a hope of a long exemption from sickness. On Monday next I shall
enter on the practice of your friendly prescription of exercise,
intending, at that time, to begin a journey to the southward, during
which I propose visiting all the southern States."

This tour he performed in his own carriage, drawn by six horses, which
were not changed during the journey, which occupied nearly three
months. He was accompanied by one of his private secretaries, Major
Jackson. Leaving his residence in Market street, Philadelphia, he set
off in the latter part of March, and was escorted into Delaware by Mr.
Jefferson and General Knox. On the 25th of March he arrived at
Annapolis, where he was met by the people in a body, entertained at
public dinners and a ball, and, after staying two days, was accompanied
on his journey by the governor of Maryland, as far as Georgetown. From
this place, on the 29th of March, he writes to Gov. Charles Pinckney,
of South Carolina: "I had the pleasure of receiving your Excellency's
obliging letter of the 8th instant last evening. I am thus far on my
tour through the southern States, but as I travel with only one set of
horses, and must make occasional halts, the progress of my journey is
exposed to such uncertainty as admits not of fixing a day for my
arrival at Charleston. While I express the grateful sense which I
entertain of your Excellency's polite offer to accommodate me at your
house during my stay in Charleston, your goodness will permit me to
deny myself that pleasure. Having, with a view to avoid giving
inconvenience to private families, early prescribed to myself the rule
of declining all invitations to quarters on my journeys, I have been
repeatedly under a similar necessity to the present, of refusing those
offers of hospitality which would, otherwise, have been both pleasing
and acceptable."

From Georgetown he proceeded to Mount Vernon, where the necessary
attention to his private affairs, and some important correspondence on
public business, detained him a week. Leaving Mount Vernon, and passing
through Fredericksburg, where he dined with some of his old personal
friends, he arrived at Richmond on the 11nth of April (1791). His
reception there was enthusiastic. He entered the city amidst the roar
of cannon and the acclamations of the crowds of people who lined the
streets through which he passed. In the evening there was a grand
illumination; and during the two days which he remained there, the city
was given up to festivities in honor of the favorite hero of Virginia.
Similar tokens of welcome were exhibited at Petersburg, Halifax,
Newburn, and Wilmington. On leaving the last-mentioned place he was
rowed across Cape Fear river in a splendid barge, by six masters of
vessels; and on his arrival at Charleston (May 2d) a similar token of
honor was accorded to him on a larger scale. From Hadrill's Point,
attended by a cortege of distinguished Carolinians, he was conveyed to
the city in a twelve-oared barge, manned by thirteen captains of
American ships, while other barges and floats, with bands of music and
decorations, formed an imposing nautical procession. On landing he was
received by Governor Pinckney, the civic authorities, the Cincinnati,
and a brilliant military escort, who attended him in procession, amidst
the ringing of bells, the firing of cannon, and the acclamations of the
people, first to the Exchange, where he was welcomed in a formal
address, and then to the house prepared for his reception. [1]

During the week he remained in Charleston, he received the most lively
and touching tokens of welcome and affection from the warm-hearted
Carolinians, who strove to render him every species of honor. A
corporation ball on a grand scale, a large dinner party at Governor
Pinckney's mansion, another at Maj. Pierce Butler's, a concert, and a
splendid public entertainment given by the merchants of the city,
formed a portion only of the testimonials of homage and welcome given
on this occasion to their illustrious guest.

He left Charleston on the 9th of May (1791), escorted to Ashley ferry
by the governor and a large cavalcade. "At Perrysburg," says Dr.
Griswold, "he was met the next day by a committee from Savannah, and,
with General Wayne, Major Butler, Mr. Baillie, and Major Jackson, was
conducted on board a richly decorated boat, in which the party were
rowed down the river by nine sea captains, dressed in light-blue silk
jackets, black satin breeches, white silk stockings, and round hats
with black ribbons, inscribed with 'Long live the President,' in golden
letters. Ten miles from the city they were met by other barges, from
one of which a company of gentlemen sung the popular song, 'He comes,
the hero comes!' As they drew near the harbor, every vessel and all the
shore were discovered to be thronged with people. When the President
stepped on the landing he was received by Gen. James Jackson, who
introduced him to the mayor and aldermen; and he was soon after
conducted, in the midst of a procession, through crowds of spectators,
to the house prepared for his accommodation in St. James' square. The
same evening he dined with the city authorities and a large number of
other gentlemen, at Brown's Coffee House. Cannons were fired during the
day, and at night the streets and the shipping were brilliantly
illuminated. On Friday he dined with the Cincinnati of the State of
Georgia, and attended a ball. On Saturday, accompanied by General
McIntosh, who had been second in command under General Lincoln in
storming them, he examined the remaining traces of the lines
constructed by the British for the defense of Savannah in 1779, and
dined with 200 citizens and strangers under a beautiful arbor,
supported by numerous columns and ornamented with laurel and bay
leaves, erected on an elevation which commanded a view of the town and
the harbor.

"It has been frequently said of Washington, that 'no man in the army
had a better eye for a horse,' and many of his letters show that he was
by no means indifferent as to the qualities or treatment of his stud,
during the war and afterward. A tour of 1,900 miles, with the same
animals, was a severe test of their capacities, and before reaching
Charleston he wrote to Mr. Lear, that though, all things considered,
they had got on very well, yet his horses were decidedly worsted, and
if brought back would 'not cut capers, as they did on setting out.' On
the 13th of May, he says in a letter to the same correspondent:

"'I shall leave this place to-morrow; my horses, especially the two I
bought just before I left Philadelphia, and my old white horse, are
much worn down, and I have yet 150 or 200 miles of heavy sand to pass
before I get fairly into the upper and firmer road.'

"On the way to Augusta he stopped to dine with the widow of his old
friend and companion in arms, General Greene, at her seat called
Mulberry Grove. On Wednesday, the 18th (May, 1791), Governor Telfair
and the principal officers of the State left the capital, with a
numerous train of citizens, and proceeded five miles toward Savannah to
meet him, and he was conducted to his lodgings accompanied by thousands
of people, who filled the air with joyous acclamations. That day he
dined with a large party at the Grove, the governor's private
residence, near Augusta, where Mrs. Telfair assembled the ladies of the
town to meet him at a ball in the evening; on Thursday he received and
answered an address from the people, attended a public dinner, and was
present at another ball; on Friday he visited the academy and dined
again with the governor; and on Saturday he started again on his
return, Augusta being the further point of his journey.

"Coming again into South Carolina, he was conducted to Columbia by
General Winne, Col. Wade Hampton, and a large number of other citizens,
and the next day dined with more than 200 of the principal men and
women of the town and neighboring country at the State house, and in
the evening attended a ball.

"On Wednesday, the 25th (May, 1791), he dined at Camden, and on the
following morning visited this grave of the Baron de Kalb, the places
where the British redoubts had been erected, Hobkirk Hill, where
General Greene was attacked by Lord Rawdon, and the plains where
General Gates was engaged by Lord Cornwallis in 1780. Passing through
Charlotte, Salisbury, Salem, Guilford, and other towns, in all of which
the love and reverence of the people were exhibited in every variety of
manner which taste and ingenuity could suggest, he arrived at Mount
Vernon on the 12th of June.

"He remained at his seat between three and four weeks, during which he
was occupied with his private affairs, and, with Major L'Enfant and
others, with the location of the new seat of government, on the banks
of the Potomac. On Thursday, the last day of June (1791), he started
for Philadelphia by way of Frederick, York, and Lancaster, and arrived
at the presidential residence about noon on the 6th of July, having
been absent nearly three months, and during that period performed a
journey of 1,887 miles." [2]

Washington was highly pleased with the result of his observations
during this tour. In a letter to Hamilton (June 13th), from Mount
Vernon on his return, we have occasion to notice the benefit he derived
from his habits of method and forethought in any undertaking which he
contemplated. "My return to this place," he writes, "is sooner than I
expected, owing to the uninterruptedness of my journey by sickness,
from bad weather, or accidents of any kind whatsoever. Having obtained,
before I left Philadelphia, the most accurate accounts I could get
there of the places and roads through and by which I was to perform my
tour, and the distances between the former, I formed my line of march
accordingly, fixing each day's journey and the day to halt; from
neither of which have I departed in a single instance, except staying,
from a particular circumstance, two days in Columbia, and none at
Charlotte, instead of one at each, and crossing James river at Carter's
ferry, in place of Taylor's, as was my original intention. But the
improbability of performing a tour of 1,700 miles (I have already rode
more) with the same set of horses, without encountering any accident,
by which a deviation would be rendered unavoidable, appeared so great,
that I allowed eight days for casualties, and six to refresh at this
place, when I should have returned to it. None of the former having
happened, accounts for the fourteen days I shall remain here before the
meeting of the commissioners." [3]

In relation to this tour in the southern States Marshall says: "In
passing through them he was received universally with the same marks of
affectionate attachment which he had experienced in the northern and
central parts of the Union. To the sensibilities which these
demonstrations of the regard and esteem of good men could not fail to
inspire, was added the high gratification produced by observing the
rapid improvements of the country, and the advances made by the
government in acquiring the confidence of the people." The numerous
letters written by him after his return to Philadelphia, attest the
agreeable impressions made by these causes. "In my late tour through
the southern States," said he, in a letter of the 28th of July, to Mr.
Gouverneur Morris, "I experienced great satisfaction in seeing the good
effects of the general government in that part of the Union. The people
at large have felt the security which it gives, and the equal justice
which it administers to them. The farmer, the merchant, and the
mechanic have seen their several interests attended to, and from thence
they unite in placing a confidence in their representatives, as well as
in those in whose hands the execution of the laws is placed. Industry
has there taken place of idleness, and economy of dissipation. Two or
three years of good crops, and a ready market for the produce of their
lands, have put everyone in good humor, and, in some instances, they
even impute to the government what is due only to the goodness of

"The establishment of public credit is an immense point gained in our
national concerns. This, I believe, exceeds the expectation of the most
sanguine among us; and a late instance, unparalleled in this country,
has been given of the confidence reposed in our measures, by the
rapidity with which the subscriptions to the Bank of the United States
were filled. In two hours after the books were opened by the
commissioners the whole number of shares was taken up, and 4,000 more
applied for than were allowed by the institution. This circumstance was
not only pleasing, as it related to the confidence in government, but
also as it exhibited an unexpected proof of the resources of our

This visit had undoubtedly some tendency to produce the good
disposition which Washington observed with so much pleasure. The
affections are, perhaps, more intimately connected with the judgment
than we are disposed to admit; and the appearance of the chief
magistrate of the Union, who was the object of general love and
reverence, could not be without its influence in conciliating the minds
of many to the government he administered, and to its measures. But
this progress toward conciliation was, perhaps, less considerable than
was indicated by appearances. The hostility to the government, which
was coeval with its existence, though diminished, was far from being
subdued; and under this smooth exterior was concealed a mass of
discontent, which, though it did not obtrude itself on the view of the
man who united almost all hearts, was active in its exertions to effect
its objects.

The difficulties which must impede the recruiting service in a country
where coercion is not employed, and where the common wages of labor
greatly exceed the pay of a soldier, protracted the completion of the
regiments to a late season of the year, but the summer was not
permitted to waste in total inaction.

The act passed at the last session for the defense of the frontiers, in
addition to its other provisions, had given to the President an
unlimited power to call mounted militia into the field. Under this
authority two expeditions had been conducted against the villages on
the Wabash, in which a few of the Indian warriors were killed, some of
their old men, women, and children were made prisoners, and several of
their towns and fields of corn were destroyed. The first was led by
General Scott, in May, and the second by General Wilkinson, in
September. These desultory incursions had not much influence on the

It was believed in the United States that the hostility of the Indians
was kept up by the traders living in their villages. These persons had,
generally, resided in the United States, and, having been compelled to
leave the country, in consequence of the part they had taken during the
war of the Revolution, felt the resentments which banishment and
confiscation seldom fail to inspire. Their enmities were ascribed by
many, perhaps unjustly, to the temper of the government in Canada; but
some countenance seemed to be given to this opinion by intelligence
that, about the commencement of the preceding campaign, large supplies
of ammunition had been delivered from the British posts on the lakes to
the Indians at war with the United States. While Washington was on his
southern tour, he addressed a letter to the Secretary of State, to be
communicated to Colonel Beckwith, who still remained in Philadelphia as
the informal representative of his nation, in which he expressed his
surprise and disappointment at this interference, by the servants or
subjects of a foreign State, in a war prosecuted by the United States
for the sole purpose of procuring peace and safety for the inhabitants
of their frontiers.

On receiving this communication Colonel Beckwith expressed his
disbelief that the supplies mentioned had been delivered; but, on being
assured of the fact, he avowed the opinion that the transaction was
without the knowledge of Lord Dorchester, to whom he said he should
communicate, without delay, the ideas of the American government on the

On the 24th of October (1791) the second Congress assembled in
Philadelphia. In his speech, at the opening of the session, the
President expressed his great satisfaction at the prosperous situation
of the country, and particularly mentioned the rapidity with which the
shares in the Bank of the United States were subscribed, as "among the
striking and pleasing evidences which presented themselves, not only of
confidence in the government, but of resources in the community."

Adverting to the measures which had been taken in execution of the laws
and resolutions of the last session, "the most important of which," he
observed, "respected the defense and security of the western
frontiers," he had, he said "negotiated provisional treaties and used
other proper means to attach the wavering, and to confirm in their
friendship the well-disposed tribes of Indians. The means which he had
adopted for a pacification with those of a hostile description having
proved unsuccessful, offensive operations had been directed, some of
which had proved completely successful, and others were still
depending. Overtures of peace were still continued to the deluded
tribes, and it was sincerely to be desired that all need of coercion
might cease, and that an intimate intercourse might succeed, calculated
to advance the happiness of the Indians, and to attach them firmly to
the United States."

In marking the line of conduct which ought to be maintained for the
promotion of this object, he strongly recommended "justice to the
savages, and such rational experiments for imparting to them the
blessings of civilization, as might from time to time suit their
condition;" and then concluded this subject with saying: "A system
corresponding with the mild principles of religion and philanthropy,
toward an unenlightened race of men whose happiness materially depends
on the conduct of the United States, would be as honorable to the
national character, as conformable to the dictates of sound policy."

After stating that measures had been taken for carrying into execution
the act laying duties on distilled spirits, he added: "The impressions
with which this law has been received by the community have been, upon
the whole, such as were to have been expected among enlightened and
well-disposed citizens, from the propriety and necessity of the
measure. The novelty, however, of the tax, in a considerable part of
the United States, and a misconception of some of its provisions, have
given occasion, in particular places, to some degree of discontent. But
it is satisfactory to know that this disposition yields to proper
explanations, and more just apprehensions of the true nature of the
law. And I entertain a full confidence that it will, in all, give way
to motives which arise out of a just sense of duty, and a virtuous
regard to the public welfare.

"If there are any circumstances in the law, which, consistently with
its main design, may be so varied as to remove any well-intentioned
objections that may happen to exist, it will comport with a wise
moderation to make the proper variations. It is desirable, on all
occasions, to unite with a steady and firm adherence to constitutional
and necessary acts of government, the fullest evidence of a
disposition, as far as may be practicable, to consult the wishes of
every part of the community, and to lay the foundations of the public
administration in the affections of the people."

The answers of the two houses noticed, briefly and generally, the
various topics of the speech; and, though perhaps less warm than those
of the preceding Congress, manifested great respect for the executive
magistrate, and an undiminished confidence in his patriotic exertions
to promote the public interests.

Soon after Congress was organized for business a warm debate sprung up
in relation to the new apportionment of representatives, in accordance
with the census, which had been taken in the preceding year, and the
results of which were now ready for the consideration of Congress. The
contest was not put to rest till the following April (1792); and not
till the third bill was constructed did the two houses agree. The first
proposal made by the representatives was to adopt the lowest ratio
allowed by the constitution--30,000, which would have raised their
numbers to 113, but there would have been large fractions of population
in the northern States left unrepresented. The Senate, to lessen those
disfranchised remnants, raised the ration to 33,000; but it was alleged
that then there were fractions, though not so large, remaining in the
southern States. The house would not accept the change, and reiterated
its former proposal in a new bill, which also arranged the taking of
another census before the expiration of ten years; but the Senate
refused its assent to this, and, instead, increased the numbers to 120
by assigning representatives to the largest fractions. This, which
violated the letter of the constitution, excited greater heat than
ever, and the old threat of breaking up the Union was resorted to. A
committee of conference was demanded at length, and in the end the
scheme of the Senate was carried by a majority of two out of sixty
votes. This decision has been remarked upon as having a curious bearing


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