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History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson/Second/I:8

< History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson‎ | Second


Chapter 8: Madison's EnemiesEdit

The President's triumph was decided as early as March 17, for on that day General Smith's assault upon Armstrong was defeated in the Senate by Vice-President Clinton's casting vote; and in the House, Randolph's resistance to the non-importation policy against England ended in his discomfiture and withdrawal; but although even at that early moment no one could doubt Jefferson's irresistible strength, yet no one who knew John Randolph could suppose that either the President or his Secretary of State was in future to sleep on roses.

The session ended April 21; and during the few weeks that intervened between Randolph's defeat, March 17, and the adjournment, the exasperated Virginian developed a strange and unequalled genius. His position was new. The alternation of threat and entreaty, of lofty menace and reluctant obedience, which marked the conduct of the State Department in its dealings with France and England, had no real admirer in the United States. When Randolph denounced the change in Spanish policy, not a voice was raised in its defence, and the public wondered that so powerful a President should be left an unprotected victim to assaults so furious. In truth Madison himself must have been tongue-tied; no resource of logic could excuse his sudden abandonment of the determination "to extinguish in the French government every hope of turning our controversy with Spain into a French job, public or private." Even had he succeeded in excusing himself, his success must have proved that Randolph's crime consisted in maintaining the ground which had been taken and held by President, secretary, and plenipotentiaries down to the moment, Oct. 23, 1805, when without explanation the ground was abandoned. Silence and numbers were the only arguments in defence of such a change, and to these forms of logic the followers of the Administration at first resorted. "It is a matter of great astonishment to me," wrote Wilson Gary Nicholas to Jefferson April 2, "that such a philippic as we have seen could have been uttered in Congress, and not one word said in justification of the Administration." [1] Toward the end of the session this silence ceased; the majority made great efforts to answer Randolph; but the answers were weaker than the silence.

Besides this difficulty in the nature of the case, the majority felt more than ever the advantage enjoyed by Randolph in his vigor and quickness of mind. For two months he controlled the House by audacity and energy of will. The Crowninshields, Yarnums, and Bidwells of New England, the Sloans, Smilies, and Findleys of the Middle States, could do nothing with him; but by the time he had done with them they were bruised and sore, mortified, angry, and ridiculous. The consciousness of this superiority, heightened to extreme arrogance by the need of brushing away every moment a swarm of flies which seemed never to know they were crushed, excited Randolph to madness. He set no bounds to the expression of his scorn not only for the Northern democrats, but for the House itself and for the whole government. At one member he shook his fist, and imperiously bade him sit down or to go down the back-stairs; another member he called an old toothless driveller, superannuated, and mumbling in second dotage.[2] He flung Madison's pamphlet with violent contempt on the floor of the House; and he told the House itself that it could not maintain a decision two hours together against the Yazoo lobby.

Sloan of New Jersey, a sort of butt in the party, who could not forgive Randolph's allusion to the "vegetable specific," retorted that Randolph behaved like "a maniac in a strait-jacket accidentally broke out of his cell." No doubt his conduct was open to the charge; but none the less the maniac gave great trouble and caused extreme confusion. Even after three fourths of the House came to share Sloan's opinion, and began the attempt to control Randolph by every means in their power, they found the task beyond them.

The Non-importation Bill, framed on Nicholson's Resolution, was quickly reported, and March 25 the House agreed to fix November 15 as the date on which the Act should go into operation. Randolph could not prevent its passage, but he could make it contemptible, if it was not so already; and he could encourage the Government and people of England to treat it with derision.

"Never in the course of my life," he cried,[3] "have I witnessed such a scene of indignity and inefficiency as this measure holds forth to the world. What is it? A milk-and-water Bill! A dose of chicken-broth to be taken nine months hence!... It is too contemptible to be the object of consideration, or to excite the feelings of the pettiest State in Europe."

The Bill immediately passed by a vote of ninety-three to thirty-two; but every man on the floor felt that Randolph was right, and every foreign minister at Washington adopted his tone.

Two days afterward he called up certain Resolutions denouncing as unconstitutional the union of civil and military authority in the same person, and declaring that a contractor under Government was a civil officer, and as such incapable of holding a seat in the House. These Resolutions struck in every direction; they were a reproof to the House, to the President, and to individual members like Matthew Lyon, who had taken mail contracts, or John Smith, the senator from Ohio, who was a large contractor for army supplies. General Wilkinson at St. Louis held civil and military powers; the new territory about to be organized under the name of Michigan was to have a governor of the same sort. A vote against Randolph's Resolutions contravened one of the cardinal principles of the Republican party; a vote for them censured the party itself and embarrassed Government. Beaten by very large majorities on these two declaratory points, Randolph succeeded in carrying through the House a Bill that rendered military and naval officers incapable of holding also any civil office. This measure slept quietly on the table of the Senate.

Hardly a day passed without bringing the House into some similar dilemma. March 29 the Senate sent down a Bill for settling the Yazoo claims; it had passed the Senate by a vote of nineteen to eleven soon after the death of its hottest opponent, Senator James Jackson of Georgia. Randolph exultingly seized upon the Bill in order to plaster it, like the hue-and-cry after a runaway thief, against the very doors of the White House:—

"This Bill may be called the Omega, the last letter of the political alphabet; but with me it is the Alpha. It is the head of the divisions among the Republican party; it is the secret and covert cause of the whole. . . . The whole weight of the Executive government presses it on. We cannot bear up against it. The whole Executive government has had a bias to the Yazoo interest ever since I had a seat here. This is the original sin which has created all the mischiefs which gentlemen pretend to throw on the impressment of our seamen, and God knows what. This is the cause of those mischiefs which existed years ago."

The Yazoo sin, he said, had been one principal cause of his failure in the impeachment of Justice Chase; the secret mechanism of Government would be so powerfully brought to bear on members that if the Bill were postponed over Sunday he would not give a farthing for the issue; gentlemen would come in with speeches ready cut-and-dried until a majority dwindled to nothing. Exasperating and insulting as this language was, the House did not resent it; and a motion that the Bill be rejected passed by a vote of sixty-two to fifty-four, while Randolph exulted over its fate.

March 31 Randolph, aided by the Federalists and some thirty Republicans, succeeded in removing the injunction of secrecy from the Spanish proceedings. No sooner was the Journal published, and he found that it did not contain the President's secret message of Dec. 6, 1805, than he seized this chance to make public all that had occurred in secret session. April 5, after moving that the injunction of secrecy should be taken from the Message, he entered into the history of his own relations with the President and Secretary of State in the tangled thread of Spanish negotiations. His remarks that day, though severe, were comparatively temperate; but when the debate was renewed April 7, he announced that he meant to oppose the Government, because he had to choose between opposition and dishonesty. He charged that Madison had tried to get money from the Treasury for this negotiation without waiting for a vote of Congress; and he declared that the documents, "if published, would fix a stain upon some men in the government and high in office which all the waters in the ocean would not wash out." His denunciations began to rouse passion; if his opponents could not equal him in debate, they could in violence of temper. Madison's brother-in-law, John G. Jackson of Virginia, took up his charges in a high tone, and several expressions passed which foreshadowed a duel. On the vote Randolph was beaten by a majority of seventy-four to forty-four; but he had published the secrets of Madison's friends, and their refusal to print the Message showed the want of courage with which they were chiefly charged.

On every point of real importance Randolph's authority overawed the House. The President in his Annual Message had talked much of defences, and had even hinted his readiness to build seventy-fours. A committee of the House reported Resolutions advising that the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars should be spent in fortifying harbors; that two hundred and fifty thousand dollars should be appropriated to build fifty gunboats; and that six hundred and sixty thousand dollars should be voted toward building six line-of-battle ships. When these Resolutions were brought up March 25, only thirty members could be found to vote for the seventy-fours. April 15 the subject came up again in connection with the Bill for fortifying harbors and building gunboats. Josiah Quincy made a strong argument, warning Congress that in the sacrifice of commercial interests which lay at the bottom of its policy, there was danger not only to the prosperity but to the permanence of the Union. He remarked that while seventeen millions had been voted to buy Louisiana and Florida for the sake of securing the South and West; while in this single session four hundred and fifty thousand dollars must be voted for Indian lands,—yet the entire sum expended since the foundation of the government in fortifications for the nine capital harbors of the Union was only seven hundred and twenty-four thousand dollars. The city of New York, with at least one hundred million dollars of capital in deposit, might at any moment be laid under contribution by two line-of-battle ships. Quincy begged the House to bear in mind that the ocean could not be abandoned for the land by the people of New England, of whom thousands would rather see a boat-hook than all the sheep-crooks in the world:—

"Concerning the land of which the gentleman from Virginia [Randolph] and the one from North Carolina [Macon] think so much, they think very little. It is in fact to them only a shelter from the storm, a perch on which they build their eyrie and hide their mate and their young while they skim the surface or hunt in the deep."

Quincy's speech was far superior to the ordinary level of Congressional harangues, and its argument was warmly supported by a democrat as extreme as Matthew Lyon; but barely thirty votes could be mustered against Randolph's economy; and although the New England democrats joined hands with the New England Federalists in supporting an appropriation for building two new frigates in place of others which had been lost or condemned, they could muster only forty-three votes against Randolph's phalanx.

Probably no small part of Randolph's hostility to the navy was due to his personal dislike for Robert Smith the secretary, and for his brother Samuel the senator. This enmity already showed signs of serious trouble in store. Gallatin struggled in vain with Robert Smith's loose habit of accounts. Joseph Nicholson, closely allied to Gallatin, naturally drew away from the Smiths, whose authority in Maryland roused ill-feeling. Randolph took sides with Gallatin and Nicholson, the more because Samuel Smith had undertaken to act an independent part in the politics of the session, and had too plainly betrayed selfish motives. When Randolph, after delaying the navy estimates as long as he could, moved the appropriations April 10, he took the opportunity to be more than usually offensive. He said that an Appropriation Bill was a mere matter of form; that the items might as well be lumped together; that the secretary would spend twice the amount if he chose, as he had done the year before, and that the House would have to make up the deficiency. "A spendthrift," said he, "can never be supplied with money fast enough to anticipate his wants."

The Bill passed, of course; but the navy was reduced to the lowest possible point, and fifty gunboats were alone provided in response to the President's strong recommendations. Randolph and his friends believed only in defence on land, and their theory was no doubt as sound as such theories could ever be; but it was the curse of "old Republican" principles that they could never be relaxed without suicide, and never enforced without factiousness. For defence on land nothing was so vital as good roads. A million dollars appropriated for roads to Sackett's Harbor, Erie, Detroit, St. Louis, and New Orleans would have been, as a measure of land defence, worth more than all the gunboats and forts that could be crowded along the Atlantic; but when the Senate sent down a Bill creating commissioners to lay out the Cumberland road to the State of Ohio, although this road was the result of a contract to which Congress had pledged its faith, so many Republicans opposed it under one pretext or another, with John Randolph among them, that a change of four votes would have defeated the Bill. No more was done for national defence by land than by water, although the echo of Nelson's guns at Trafalgar was as loud as the complaints of plundered American merchants, and of native American seamen condemned to the tyranny and the lash of British boatswains.

The drift of Randolph's opposition was easily seen; he wanted to cover the Administration with shame for having taken a warlike tone which it never meant to support. His tactics were calculated to make Madison contemptible at home and abroad by inviting upon him the worst outrages of foreign governments. That he succeeded so far as foreign governments were concerned was almost a matter of course, since even without his aid Spain, France, and England could hardly invent an outrage which they had not already inflicted; but at home Randolph's scheme failed, because Madison could be degraded only by making the American people share in his humiliation. The old Republicans relieved Madison of responsibility for national disgrace, and made Congress itself answerable for whatever disasters might follow,—a result made clear by Randolph's last and most mischievous assault. To meet the five millions required for the purchase of Florida, at a moment when the Non-importation Act threatened to cut down the revenue, Gallatin needed all the existing taxes, including the Mediterranean Fund, which ceased by law after the peace with Tripoli. April 14 Randolph suddenly, without the knowledge or consent of Gallatin, moved to repeal the duty on salt. This heavy and unpopular tax produced about half a million dollars, and its repeal was so popular that no one dared oppose it. The next day Randolph brought in a Bill repealing the salt tax and continuing the Mediterranean Fund. By that time members had become aware of his factious motives, and denounced them; but so far from disavowing his purpose, the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means proclaimed that since he could not force the Government to keep within the limit of specific appropriations he meant to sequester the revenue so as to leave but a scanty surplus. After his speech the Bill was engrossed without opposition, the Federalists being pleased to embarrass Government, and the Republicans afraid of sacrificing popularity. April 17 the Bill passed by a vote of eighty-four to eleven and was sent to the Senate. The part which related to the salt tax was there struck out; but when, April 21, the last day of the session, the Bill so mutilated came again before the House, Randolph exerted to the utmost his powers of mischief, not so much in order to repeal the salt tax as to destroy the Senate Bill, and so deprive Government of its still greater resource, the Mediterranean Fund, which produced nearly a million. He induced the House to insist upon its own Bill. A committee of conference was appointed; the Senate would not recede; Randolph moved that the House adhere. Angry words passed; ill-temper began to prevail; and when at last Randolph was beaten by the narrow vote of forty-seven to forty, his relative Thomas Mann Randolph, the President's son-in-law, suddenly rose and spoke of his namesake in terms intended for a challenge; while Sloan of New Jersey occupied part of the night with a long diatribe against the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Never had worse temper been seen at Washington than in the last weeks of this session. Madison's friends, conscious that their attitude was undignified, became irritable, and longed for a chance to prove their courage. Randolph was not the only enemy who devoted the energy of personal hatred to the task of ruining the Secretary of State. In the case of Randolph Madison was not to blame, and neither challenged nor wished a contest. Even the policy which Randolph so violently assailed was less the policy of the secretary than of the President. Madison did nothing to invite the storm, and could have done nothing to escape it; but another tempest raged, to which he voluntarily exposed himself.

The Marquis of Casa Yrujo passed the autumn of 1805 in Philadelphia, and in obedience to instructions tried to renew friendly relations with the Secretary of State. During Madison's stay in the city Yrujo induced the secretary to accept an invitation to dinner to meet Governor McKean, Yrujo's father-in-law. The marquis paid no attention to the hints sent him from the President that he would confer a favor on the United States government by returning to Spain without delay. He was well aware that he had nothing to gain by conferring more favors on Jefferson; and the conduct of Turreau and Merry was not such as to deter a Spanish minister from defying to his heart's content the authority of the President.

On the appearance of the Annual Message, which contained a general and loose statement of grievances against Spain, Yrujo wrote Dec. 6, 1805, a keen note to the Secretary of State, criticising, not without justice, the assertions made by the President. To Yrujo's note, as to the St. Domingo note of Turreau, the secretary made no reply. He held that the contents of an Executive communication to Congress were not open to diplomatic discussion,—a doctrine doubtless correct in theory and convenient to the Executive, but offering the disadvantage that if foreign governments or their envoys chose to disregard it, the Secretary of State must either enforce discipline or submit to mortification. Madison accepted the challenge; he meant to enforce discipline, and aimed at expelling Yrujo from the country. The Cabinet decided that Yrujo, pending the request for his recall, should receive no answer to his letters, and should not be permitted to remain in Washington.

Backed by the President's authority and by the power of the government, Madison might reasonably expect an easy victory over the Spaniard, and he acted as though it were a matter of course that Yrujo should accept his fate; but Yrujo seemed unconscious of peril. Although the Spanish minister's presence at the capital was well known not to be desired by the President, the society of Washington was startled Jan. 15, 1806, by learning that the marquis had arrived. The same evening Yrujo, dining with General Turreau, received a formal note which roused him to passion only equalled by the temper of John Randolph. The exasperating letter, signed by Madison, said that as the President had requested Yrujo's recall, and as Cevallos had intimated that the marquis wished to return to Spain on leave, it had been supposed that the departure would have taken place at once, and therefore his appearance at Washington was a matter of surprise:—

"Under these circumstances the President has charged me to signify to you that your remaining at this place is dissatisfactory to him; and that although he cannot permit himself to insist on your departure from the United States during an inclement season, he expects it will not be unnecessarily postponed after this obstacle has ceased."
A routine diplomatist would have protested and obeyed; but Yrujo was not a routine diplomatist. Not in order to learn correct deportment had he read the "Aurora" or studied the etiquette of Jefferson's pêle-mêle. Minister and marquis as he was, he had that democratic instinct which always marked the Spanish race and made even the beggars proud; while his love of a fray shocked Turreau and caused Merry to look upon his Spanish colleague as a madman. At that moment Madison was little esteemed or feared by any one; the recoil of his foreign policy had prostrated him, and Randolph was every day, in secret session, overwhelming him with contempt. Yrujo had no reason to fear the result of a contest; but even had there been cause for fear, he was not a man to regard it.

Turreau in vain attempted to restrain him; nothing would satisfy Yrujo but defiance. January 16, the day after receiving Madison's letter, the Spanish minister answered it.

"As the object of my journey is not with a view to hatch plots," said he, with a side-blow at Madison which the secretary soon understood, "my arrival here is an innocent and legal act, which leaves me in the full enjoyment of all my rights and privileges, both as a public character or a private individual. Making use therefore of these rights and privileges, I intend remaining in the city, four miles square, in which the Government resides, as long as it may suit the interest of the King my master or my own personal convenience. I must at the same time add that I shall not lose sight of these two circumstances as respects the period and season in which our mutual desires for my departure from the United States are to be accomplished."

Having thus retaliated Madison's insult, Yrujo next made his revenge public. January 19 he sent to the Department a formal protest, couched in language still more offensive than that of his letter:—

"Having gone through the personal explanations which for just motives I was compelled to enter into in my first answer to your letter of the 15th inst., I must now inform you, sir, what otherwise would then have constituted my sole reply; namely, that the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of his Catholic Majesty near the United States receives no orders except from his sovereign. I must also declare to you, sir, that I consider both the style and tenor of your letter as indecorous, and its object an infraction of the privileges attached to my public character."

Finally he sent to his colleagues copies of this correspondence, which soon afterward was printed in every Federalist newspaper, together with the note criticising the Annual Message, the reception of which had never been acknowledged by the Secretary of State.

Thus far Madison gained no credit in the scuffle, but merely called upon his own head one more intolerable insult. Perhaps in Yrujo's apparent madness some share of method might be detected; for he knew the character of Madison,—his willingness to irritate and his reluctance to strike. At all events, the Spaniard remained at Washington and defied the Government to do its worst. The Cabinet consulted, examined into the law, inquired for precedents, and at last decided that the Government could not expel him. Merry took Yrujo's part, and Turreau had much to do with moderating the President's measures and with checking interference from Congress.[4] The Government in all its branches was overawed, and even the senators were alarmed. "The marquis's letters last published seem to have frightened many of them so that probably nothing will be done."[5] So wrote a member of the Senate who alone exerted himself to strengthen the President's hands. Yrujo remained a fortnight or more at Washington, and after carrying his point returned at his leisure to Philadelphia. The only measure which Madison ventured to take was that of refusing to hold any communication with him or to receive his letters; but even this defence was turned by Yrujo into a vantage-ground of attack.

Among other adventurers then floating about the world was one Francesco de Miranda, a native of Caraccas, who for twenty years had been possessed by a passion for revolutionizing his native province, and for becoming the Washington of Spanish America. Failing to obtain in England the aid he needed, he came to New York in November, 1805, with excellent letters of introduction. Miranda had a high reputation; he was plausible and enthusiastic; above all, he was supposed to represent a strong patriot party in Spanish America. War with Spain was imminent; the President's Annual Message seemed almost to declare its existence. In New York Miranda instantly became a hero, and attracted about him every ruined adventurer in society, among the rest a number of Aaron Burr's friends. Burr himself was jealous, and spoke with contempt of him; but Burr's chief ally Dayton, the late Federalist senator from New Jersey, was in Miranda's confidence. So was John Swartwout the marshal, Burr's devoted follower; so was William Steuben Smith, surveyor of the port, one of the few Federalists still left in office. These, as well as a swarm of smaller men, clustered round the Spanish American patriot, either to help his plans or to further their own. By Smith's advice Miranda hired the ship "Leander," owned by one Ogden and commanded by a Captain Lewis; with Smith's active aid Miranda next bought arms and supplies, and enlisted men.

Meanwhile Miranda went to Washington. Arriving there in the first days of the session, before the pacific secret message and its sudden change of policy toward Spain were publicly known, he called upon the Secretary of State. December 11 he was received by the secretary at the Department; then invited to dine; then he put off his departure in order to dine with the President at the White House,—at a time when he was engaged, in conjunction with the surveyor of the port of New York, in fitting out a warlike expedition against Spanish territory. What passed between him and Madison became matter of dispute. The secretary afterward admitted that Miranda told of his negotiations with the British government, and made no secret of his hopes to revolutionize Colombia; to which Madison had replied that the government of the United States could not aid or countenance any secret enterprise, and was determined to interfere in case of any infraction of the law. Miranda's account of the secretary's conversation was very different; he wrote to Smith, from Washington, letters representing Madison to be fully aware of the expedition then fitting out, and to be willing that Smith should join it. He made a parade of social relations with the President and secretary, and on returning to New York was open in his allusions to the complicity of Government. Doubtless his statements were false, and those of Madison were alone worthy of belief; but the Secretary of State was not the less compromised in the opinion of his enemies.

Miranda quickly returned to New York; and when about a month later the "Leander" was ready to sail, he wrote a letter to Madison announcing his intended departure, and taking a sort of formal and official leave, as though he were a confidential emissary of the President. He had the assurance to add that "the important matters" which he had communicated "will remain, I doubt not, in the deepest secret until the final result of this delicate affair. I have acted here on that supposition, conforming myself in everything to the intentions of the Government, which I hope I have seized and observed with exactitude and discretion." [6]

Ten days afterward the "Leander" sailed with a party of filibusters for the Spanish main, and the Secretary of State awoke to the consciousness that he had been deceived and betrayed. Fortunately for Madison, Miranda had not left behind him a copy of this letter, but had merely told his friends its purport. The letter itself remained unseen; but the original still exists among the Archives of the State Department, bearing an explanatory note in Madison's handwriting, that Miranda's "important" communications related to "what passed with the British government," and that in saying he had conformed in New York to the President's intentions, Miranda said what was not true.

Then Madison, after receiving and entertaining Miranda at Washington while a high government official was openly enlisting troops for him at New York, ordered the Spanish minister to leave the Federal city, and refused to receive the minister's communications on any subject whatever. He had driven Casa Calvo and Morales from Louisiana, and at the same time allowed a notorious Spanish rebel to organize in New York a warlike expedition against Spanish territory.

Madison could hardly suppose that Yrujo would fail to make him pay the uttermost penalty for a mistake so glaring. Never before had the Spaniard enjoyed such an opportunity. After defying the secretary at Washington, Yrujo returned to Philadelphia, where he arrived on the evening of February 4. As he stepped from his carriage letters were put into his hand. Three of these letters were from the Spanish consul at New York, and contained only the notice that the "Leander" was about to sail.[7] Serious as this news was, it did not compare in importance with information furnished by Jonathan Dayton. For reasons of his own Dayton kept Yrujo informed of

events unknown even to Merry and Turreau, and unsuspected by the President or his Cabinet. In some cases he probably tried to work on Yrujo's credulity.
"The Secretary of State," according to Dayton's story, "with whom Miranda had two conferences, doubtless suspecting the origin of this mission, had at first treated him with reserve; but at last had opened himself so far as to say that he did not know whether the United States would or would not declare war against Spain, because this step must depend on Congress; that in this uncertainty he could not permit himself to offer Miranda the aid asked; but that if private citizens in the United States chose to advance their funds for the undertaking, as Miranda had suggested, the Government would shut its eyes to their conduct, provided that Miranda took his measures in such a way as not to compromise the Government. At the same time the secretary coincided in Miranda's idea that in case the United States should determine upon war with Spain, this undertaking would prove to be a diversion favorable to the views of the American government."

This had been told to Yrujo, and reported by him to his Government before the visit to the capital. In the excitement caused by Madison's order to leave Washington, Yrujo confided in General Turreau, and went so far as to hint to Madison himself his knowledge that Madison was engaged in "hatching plots" against Spain. Dayton's latest information was still more serious. Besides exact details in regard to the force and destination of Miranda, Dayton said it had been agreed between Madison and Miranda that the Government should use the pretext of asking Yrujo's recall in order to refuse to receive communications from him, and thus prevent him from claiming official interference against the "Leander."

No sooner did the idea of a profound intrigue effect a lodgment in the Spaniard's mind, than he turned it into a means of wounding the Secretary of State. After writing letters the whole night, and sending off swift-sailing pilot-boats to warn the Spanish authorities of Miranda's plans, the marquis turned his attention to the secretary. He sent a letter to the Department, complaining that the "Leander" had been allowed to sail; but knowing that the Department would decline to receive his letter, he took another measure which secured with certainty a hearing. He wrote a similar letter to Turreau, begging his interference.[8]

Turreau could not refuse. No sooner did he receive Yrujo's letter, February 7, than he went to the Department and had an interview with the secretary, which he reported to Yrujo on the same day:[9]

"I was this morning with Madison. I imparted to him my suspicions and yours. I sought his eyes, and, what is rather rare, I met them. He was in a state of extraordinary prostration while I was demanding from him a positive explanation on the proceedings in question. It was with an effort that he broke silence, and at length answered me that the President had already anticipated my representations by ordering measures to be taken against the accomplices who remained in the country and against the culprits who should return. I leave you to judge whether I was satisfied by this answer, and I quitted him somewhat abruptly in order to address him in writing. I am occupied in doing so."

Madison might well show disturbance. To conciliate Turreau and Napoleon had been the chief object of his policy since the preceding October. For this he had endured arrogance such as no other American secretary ever tolerated. The Florida negotiation had not yet begun; John Randolph had delayed it and declaimed against it until Madison's reputation was involved in its success. Turreau held its fate in his hand; and suddenly Turreau appeared, demanding that Madison should prove himself innocent of charges that involved a quarrel with France as the ally and protector of Spain, while Madison had in his desk the parting letter from Miranda which if published would have proved the truth of these charges to the mind of every diplomatist and political authority in Europe.

Before many days had passed, Yrujo set the Federalist press at work. The President removed Smith from his office of surveyor, and caused both Smith and Ogden to be indicted. Indignant at being, as they believed, sacrificed to save Madison, Smith and Ogden sent memorials to Congress, which were presented by Josiah Quincy, April 21, the last day of the session, when the House was already irritable and the endurance of Madison's friends was exhausted by the vexatious attacks to which they had been for so many months exposed without capacity to reply or power to prevent them. John G. Jackson of Virginia, who had already invited a duel with Randolph, broke into a furious tirade against Quincy. "I say it is a base calumny of which the gentleman has made himself the organ; and in saying so I hold myself responsible in any place the gentleman pleases." The House voted by an immense majority to return the memorials to the men from whom they came. The charges against the secretary were hustled aside, and Congress adjourned with what little dignity was left it; but Yrujo won his victory, and gave to the Secretary of State the fullest equivalent for the secretary's assault. For another year he defied his enemy by remaining as Spanish minister in America; but he held no more relations with Government, and at his own request was then sent to represent Don Carlos IV. at the Court of Eugène Beauharnais at Milan.

Thus the first session of the Ninth Congress closed, April 21, 1806, leaving the Administration master of the field, but strong in numbers alone. How long a government could maintain its authority by mere momentum of inert mass had become a serious question to Jefferson and his successor.


  1. W. C. Nicholas to Jefferson, April 2, 1806; Jefferson MSS.
  2. Annals of Congress, 1805-1806, p. 1107.
  3. Annals of Congress, March 26, 1806, p. 851.
  4. Diary of J. Q. Adams (Feb. 15, 1806), i. 410.
  5. Diary of J. Q. Adams (Feb. 20, 1806), i. 414.
  6. Miranda to Madison, Jan. 22, 1806; Madison MSS.
  7. Yrujo to Cevallos, Feb. 12, 1806; MSS. Spanish Archives.
  8. Yrujo to Turreau, Feb. 4, 1806; MSS. Spanish Archives.
  9. Turreau to Yrujo, Feb. 7, 1806; MSS. Spanish Archives