History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson/Second/II:18

Chapter 18: General FactiousnessEdit

Among the Federalists were still a few moderate men who hoped that Jefferson might not be wholly sold to France, and who were inclined to ask for some new policy of peace or war before throwing aside the old one. Pickering's contempt for such allies echoed the old feuds of New England, and revived the root-and-branch politics of the Puritans:

"Some cautious men here of the Federal party discovered an inclination to wait patiently till the first of June the promised repeal of the embargo. God forbid that such timid counsels should reach the Massachusetts legislature, or a single member of it! A million of such men would not save the nation. Defeat the accursed measure now, and you not only restore commerce, agriculture, and all sorts of business to activity, but you save the country from a British war. The power of the present miserable rulers—I mean their power to do material mischief—will then be annihilated."[1]

Pickering's instructions were exactly followed; his temper infused itself through every New England town. Once more, a popular delusion approaching frenzy,—a temporary insanity like the witchcraft and Quaker mania,—took possession of the mind of Massachusetts, and broke into acute expression. Not for a full century had the old Puritan prejudice shown itself in a form so unreasoning and unreasonable; but although nearly one half the people held aloof and wondered at the madness of their own society, the whole history of Massachusetts, a succession of half-forgotten disputes and rebellions, seemed to concentrate itself for the last time in a burst of expiring passions, mingled with hatred of Virginia and loathing for Jefferson, until the rest of America, perplexed at paroxysms so eccentric, wondered whether the spirit of Massachusetts liberty could ever have been sane. For the moment Timothy Pickering was its genius.

The decision reached by the Federalists at Washington, on or about December 21, when the Enforcement Bill passed the Senate, was quickly known in Massachusetts, and without further delay the crisis was begun. Hitherto the tone of remonstrance had been respectful; under cover of the Enforcement Act it rapidly became revolutionary. Dec. 27, 1808, a town-meeting at Bath, in the district of Maine, set the movement on foot by adopting Resolutions[2] which called on the general court, at its meeting January 25, to take "immediate steps for relieving the people, either by themselves alone, or in concert with other commercial States" while at the same time the town voted "that a committee of safety and correspondence be appointed, to correspond with committees of other towns, . . . and to watch over the safety of the people of this town, and to give immediate alarm so that a regular meeting may be called whenever any infringement of their rights shall be committed by any person or persons under color and pretence of authority derived from any officer of the United States." This extravagant measure, evidently intended to recall the memory of 1776, was quickly imitated by the town of Gloucester, which, January 12,[3] formally approved the Resolutions passed at Bath, voted an address to the general court, and appointed a committee of public safety. These first steps went so far that other towns could not easily keep pace with them, and were obliged to fall behind. The scheme of appointing everywhere town-committees of public safety to organize combined resistance to the national government, was laid aside, or fell to the ground; but the town-meetings went on. In the county of Hampshire, a public meeting of citizens, January 12,[4] announced "that causes are continually occurring which tend to produce a most calamitous event,—a dissolution of the Union;" and January 20, a meeting at Newburyport, in Senator Pickering's County of Essex, voted—

"That we will not aid or assist in the execution of the several embargo laws, especially the last, and that we consider all those who do as violators of the Constitution of the United States and of this Commonwealth; and that they be considered as unworthy of the confidence and esteem of their fellow-citizens."

On the eve of the day fixed for the General Court to assemble, in the midst of town-meetings far and near, Boston called a meeting at Faneuil Hall. The town had grown to a population of more than thirty thousand, but old citizens could remember the Stamp Act and the Boston Port Bill; they had seen Samuel Adams and John Hancock defy, in Faneuil Hall, the power of Parliament; and the same town-meeting which had stood firm against King George, even to the point of armed rebellion, still existed unchanged, ready to resist the tyranny of a Virginia President. January 23 four thousand citizens swarmed to the hall famous for its Revolutionary associations; and in the minds of all, either as a hope or a terror, revolution was the absorbing thought.

Socially, nothing could be more respectable than the assembly. The names of the committee appointed to draft a petition to the general court included the best people of Boston. The list began with Thomas Handasyd Perkins, and included Samuel Dexter, John Warren, William Sullivan, Jonathan Mason, and Theodore Lyman,—members of a city aristocracy which still existed in vigor as robust as in the days when aristocracy was sustained by English example and patronage. Chief-Justice Parsons, who freely expressed his opinion that the embargo was unconstitutional, had no part in the proceedings; but on his privately given advice the meeting was to take its stand. The Essex Junto, willing to escape its own unpopularity, surrendered the apparent lead to a man who shared in few of the extreme opinions of Pickering, Parsons, and George Cabot,—a man who stood second to no Federalist in ability, but who had never sympathized with Alexander Hamilton's feuds, or with factious hostility either to Federalist or to Republican Presidents. Samuel Dexter, Secretary of War in 1800, Secretary of the Treasury in 1801, a lawyer of the highest standing, had been employed to argue against the constitutionality of the Embargo Act before Judge Davis in September, and although he lost his cause, he stoutly maintained the soundness of his argument. In truth, the question was still open; and since the trial at Salem, the Enforcement Act had greatly strengthened constitutional objections already strong. Dexter believed that his duty required him to join in protesting against such legislation, and accordingly he took an active part in drafting and defending the Resolutions and memorial reported by his committee, which appealed to the general court "for their interposition to save the people of this Commonwealth from the destructive consequences which they apprehend to their liberties and property from the continuance of the present system."

No measure reported by Samuel Dexter was likely to satisfy the hot temper of a town-meeting. The regular Resolutions were duly adopted, with little vigorous opposition, and the meeting adjourned till the next day; but when the citizens re-assembled, January 24, they passed another resolve, offered by Daniel Sargent, which startled the law-abiding public of Massachusetts by formally declaring that "we will not voluntarily aid or assist in the execution" of the Enforcement Act; and that "all those who shall so assist in enforcing upon others the arbitrary and unconstitutional provisions of this Act, ought to be considered as enemies to the Constitution of the United States and of this State, and hostile to the liberties of this people."

Alarming as was the tone of Boston, Samuel Dexter and his associates avoided taking open part with the British government against their own. Elsewhere no such reticence was shown. Not only in private, in all places, at every table, did the bitterness of New England temper and the intensity of local prejudice allow themselves the freest expression, but the numerous town-meetings also showed a spirit rather British than American. Among many examples a few are worth recalling, to show the absence of national feeling, and the difficulties and dangers which stood in the nation's way.

January 24 the town of Beverly, in Essex County, voted[5] that—

"They have witnessed with regret too strong a propensity to palliate and overlook the unjust aggressions of one foreign nation, and to exaggerate and misrepresent the conduct of another; that the measures pursued are calculated and designed to force us into a war with Great Britain,—a war which would be extremely detrimental to our agriculture, fatal to our commerce, and which would probably deprive us forever of the Bank fishery,—and to unite us in alliance with France, whose embrace is death."

January 26 the town of Plymouth voted [6]

"That by the partial and insidious management of our external relations, by a servile compliance with the views of one belligerent whose restless ambition is grasping at the subjugation of the civilized world, and by the unnecessary provocations offered to another, magnanimously contending for its own existence and the emancipation of the oppressed, our national peace is endangered, and our national dignity and good faith sacrificed on the altar of duplicity."

January 23 the town of Wells, in the district of Maine, voted[7]

"That we deprecate that cringing sycophancy which has marked the conduct of our national government toward the tyrant of Europe, while we view with indignation and alarm its hostility toward Great Britain."

On the same day Gloucester spoke in language still more insulting to the national government:[8]

"We see not only the purse-strings of our nation in the hands of a Frenchified Genevan, but all our naval forces and all our militia placed under the control of this same foreigner, whom we cannot but think a satellite of Bonaparte. . . . In our opinion the national Cabinet has given to this country and the world the most indubitable evidence of their insincerity; that their great study has been to involve this country in a war with Great Britain, and of course to form a coalition with France, regardless of consequences. Their pledges to France of their willingness to submit to the wishes or mandates of the Corsican have been satisfactory. . . . We should deprecate a separation of the States, and would resort to every honorable means of redress before we would seek relief in a dissolution of the Union. . . . Our Administration can dissemble their real motives no longer; our dreadful forebodings prove realities; the expected blow has reached us, and by it has fled our liberty."

In quaint and pathetic phrases, the little town of Alfred, in Maine, sent to the general court a petition[9] which charged the national government with endeavoring "to provoke a ruinous and destructive war with England, to gratify the ambition and caprice, and augment the power, of the tyrant of France."

"We are the poor inhabitants of a small town," continued the Alfred petition, "rendered poorer by the wayward, inconsistent policy of the general government; but life and liberty are as dear to us as to our opulent brethren of the South, and we flatter ourselves that we have as much love of liberty and abhorrence of slavery as those who oppress us in the name of Republicanism. We love liberty in principle but better in practice. We cling to a union of the States as the rock of our salvation; and nothing but a fearful looking for of despotism would induce us to wish for a severance of the band that unites us. But oppression did sever us from the British empire; and what a long and continued repetition of similar acts of the government of the United States would effect, God only knows!"

These extracts showed the temper in which the Massachusetts legislature met. The Federalist leaders had more difficulty to restrain than to excite the people, and felt themselves strong enough to assume the air of cautious and conservative men. After an exchange of opinions between the Legislature and Levi Lincoln, who had become governor on the death of Sullivan shortly before, both Houses turned their attention to national affairs. The numerous petitions on the subject of the embargo were referred to committees. Without loss of time the Senate committee, February 1, made a Report recommending an Act to secure the people of the State from "unreasonable, arbitrary, and unconstitutional searches in their dwelling-houses;" to which was added a series of four Resolutions, closing with a formal adoption of the step so long desired by Senator Pickering.

"Resolved, That the Legislature of this Commonwealth will zealously co-operate with any of the other States in all legal and constitutional measures for procuring such amendments to the Constitution of the United States as shall be judged necessary to obtain protection and defence for commerce, and to give to the commercial States their fair and just consideration in the government of the Union; and for affording permanent security, as well as present relief, from the oppressive measures under which they now suffer."
"Resolved, That the Honorable the President of the Senate, and the Honorable the Speaker of the House of Representatives, be requested to transmit a copy of this Report, and the Resolutions thereon, to the legislatures of such of our sister States as manifest a disposition to concur with us in measures to rescue our common country from impending ruin, and to preserve inviolate the union of the States."

These Resolutions proclaimed that a union of the Eastern States against the national government was the earnest wish of Massachusetts; and the advance thus made was instantly met by Connecticut, where Jonathan Trumbull, a Federalist of pure stock, who had for ten years filled the chair of governor, called a special meeting of the Legislature in pursuance of the arrangement concerted at Washington. The temper of Governor Trumbull could be judged from a letter written by him, February 4, to Secretary Dearborn, who had requested him to select militia officers on whom the collectors might call for military aid in enforcing the embargo.

"Conceiving as I do," replied Governor Trumbull, "and believing it to be the opinion of the great mass of citizens of this State, that the late law of Congress for a more rigorous enforcement of the embargo is unconstitutional in many of its provisions, interfering with the State sovereignties, and subversive of the rights, privileges, and immunities of the citizens of the United States, . . . my mind has been led to a serious and decided determination to decline a compliance with your request, and to have no agency in the appointments which the President has been pleased to refer to me."

In calling together the legislature of Connecticut, Governor Trumbull's concert with Massachusetts was evident, and his object of resisting the embargo was avowed. So bluntly did the Federalists proclaim their purpose, that when the Connecticut legislature met, February 23, the governor in his opening speech explained his action as though it were a matter of course that he should call upon the State to nullify an Act of Congress.

"Whenever our national legislature," he said, "is led to overleap the prescribed bounds of their constitutional powers, on the State legislatures in great emergencies devolves the arduous task,—it is their right, it becomes their duty,—to interpose their protecting shield between the rights and liberties of the people and the assumed power of the general government."

If Madison was not by that time weary of his own words,—if the Resolutions of 1798 and the fatal "interpose" of Virginia had not become hateful to his ears,—he might have found some amusement in the irony with which Trumbull flung the familiar phrases of Virginia back into her face; but serious as such conduct was, the mere defiance carried less alarm than was warranted by the signs of secret concert with England which the Federalists willingly betrayed. Trumbull and Hillhouse, Pickering and Otis, were not necessarily masters of the situation, even when at the head of all New England; but when they pointed significantly at the fleets and armies of Great Britain behind them, they carried terror to the heart of the Union. So little did they hide their attitude toward the British government that their organ, the "New England Palladium," published, January 6, Canning's personal letter of Sept. 23, 1808, to Pinkney, which Madison had suppressed. How it had been obtained, no one knew. The British Foreign Office seemed to stand in direct communication with Boston, while the Boston Federalists exulted in a chance to swell what they thought the triumph of George Canning over their own Federalist friend, William Pinkney.

Tactics like these, unscrupulous though they might be, were effective. Jefferson and Madison had the best reason to know the force of such factiousness, for only ten years before, on less provocation, they had themselves led in Virginia and Kentucky a movement with a similar purpose; but although their history as leaders of an opposition implied agreement in principle with the doings of Massachusetts and Connecticut, their dignity and interest as Presidents of the United States required them to carry out the laws they had advised and approved. Whatever might be the personal wishes of a few men like Pickering, the great mass of Federalists wished at heart no more harm to the country than to overthrow and humiliate Jefferson, and to cripple Madison from the start; while the Administration, on its side, in struggling to escape a personal humiliation, was obliged to adopt any course that offered the best hope of success even though it should sacrifice the national character. As the last weeks of President Jefferson's Administration approached, this personal conflict—the bitterness of sixteen years—concentrated its virulence upon a single point, but that point vital to Jefferson's fame and popularity,—the embargo.

Rarely in American history has been seen a struggle more furious or less ennobling than that which took place at Washington in the months of January and February, 1809. With a bold face, but with small confidence, Madison and Gallatin pressed their measures. After passing the Enforcement Act on the morning of January 6, Congress turned at once to a matter even more serious. January 7 a Resolution was offered in the House providing for an early meeting of the next Congress, and in the short debate that followed, a distinct line began for the first time to divide the advocates of war from the partisans of peace. The extra session was avowedly to be called for the purpose of declaring war. Simultaneously a bill was introduced to raise, arm, and equip fifty thousand volunteers to serve for the term of two years; while the Senate sent down another bill ordering all the frigates and gunboats to be "fitted out, officered, manned, and employed as soon as may be." The fourth Monday in May was the date proposed for the extra session, and Congress at last found itself face to face with the naked issue of war.

The effect of the crisis upon Congress was immediate. Doubt, defiance, dismay, and disgust took possession of the Legislature, which swayed backward and forward from day to day, as courage or fear prevailed. The old Republicans, who could not yield their faith in the embargo, begged almost piteously for delay.

"A large portion of the people, the South almost unanimously," urged David R. Williams of South Carolina, "have expressed a wish that the Government should adhere to the embargo till it produces an effect, or the capacity to produce the effect be disproved. You are like to be driven out of the embargo by war? Why, sir, look at the sensation in New England and New York, and talk about going to war when you cannot maintain an embargo! . . . If you do not adopt war before the fourth Monday in May, will the nation be ruined if you postpone it still further?"[10]

Macon declared that the embargo was still the people's choice:—

"As to the people being tired of the embargo, whenever they want war in preference to it they will send their petitions here to that effect. . . . Let each man put the question to his neighbor whether he will have war or embargo, and there is no doubt but he will answer in favor of the latter."

Such reasoning, honest and true as it was in the mouths of men like Macon and Williams, gave a tone of weakness and irresolution to the debate, while it acted on the Federalists with the force of defiance, and drew from Josiah Quincy a speech which long remained famous, and which no Republican ever forgot or forgave.

That this strong, self-asserting Boston gentleman, gifted, ambitious, the embodiment of Massachusetts traditions and British prejudices, should feel deep contempt for the moral courage and the understanding of men whose motives were beyond the range of his sympathies and experience, was natural; for Josiah Quincy belonged to a class of Americans who cared so intensely for their own convictions that they could not care for a nation which did not represent them; and in his eyes Jefferson was a transparent fraud, his followers were dupes or ruffians, and the nation was hastening to a fatal crisis. Yet with all this to excuse him, his language still passed the bounds of license. He began by reaffirming that deception had been practised on the House when the President induced it to adopt the embargo without alluding to its coercive purpose:—

"I do not think I state my position too strongly when I say that not a man in this House deemed the embargo intended chiefly as a measure of coercion on Great Britain; that it was to be made permanent at all hazards until it had effected that object, and that nothing else effectual was to be done for the support of our maritime rights. If any individual was influenced by such motives, certainly they were not those of a majority of this House. Now, sir, on my conscience, I do believe that these were the motives and intentions of the Administration when they recommended the embargo to the adoption of this House."

So far as concerned President Jefferson this charge was true; but every one knew that Jefferson habitually threw responsibility on Congress, and after the scandal made by John Randolph in the Spanish affair of 1805, the House alone was to blame if it incurred consequences which were evident on the face of its measures. Quincy next asserted a worse and more mischievous charge:—

"Not only that embargo was resorted to as a means of coercion, but from the first it was never intended by the Administration to do anything else effectual for the support of our maritime rights. Sir, I am sick—sick to loathing—of this eternal clamor of 'war, war, war!' which has been kept up almost incessantly on this floor, now for more than two years. Sir, if I can help it, the old women of this country shall not be frightened in this way any longer. I have been a long time a close observer of what has been done and said by the majority of this House, and for one I am satisfied that no insult, however gross, offered to us by either France or Great Britain, could force this majority into the declaration of war. To use a strong but common expression, it could not be kicked into such a declaration by either nation."[11]

Insults are pointless unless they have a foundation of truth or probability. The Parliament of Great Britain would have laughed at such a taunt; Napoleon would not have understood what it meant; but Congress drew a deep breath of dismay, for every member knew that openly and secretly, in public and in private, the single decisive argument against war had been and still was—fear. After four years of outrage such as would have made the blood of an Englishman or a Frenchman turn to fire in his veins, not an American could be found, between Canada and Texas, who avowed the wish to fight. Quincy's speech produced a momentary outbreak of passion; hot retorts were made; the chamber rang with epithets of abuse; but still no one professed to want war. The House twisted and turned like a martyr on his bed of steel, but its torture was of painful doubt, not of passion.

So far as mere words affected the public mind, Josiah Quincy's taunt, not less than the sarcasms of Canning and the arrogance of Napoleon, stung Americans beyond endurance. In one sense Quincy did good service to his country; his statesmanship, if not refined, was effective; his argument, if some what brutal, was strong; and within four-and-twenty hours the House met it in the only way that could preserve the dignity of Congress and the Administration, by passing the bill for an extra session with eighty votes against twenty-six. This result was reached January 20, and seemed to prove that the Government had overcome its difficulties and mastered the situation; but nothing was further from the truth. Quincy knew what was passing behind the scenes. The Administration, so far from gaining strength, barely showed steadiness. At the moment when New England flung herself, with every sign of desperate rage, across the path of Government, faction within the Republican party struck Madison a severe blow before he had time for defence.

The first sign of Republican revolt appeared in unexpected favors lavished on the maltreated navy. Sixteen Republican senators combined with the Federalists to pass through the Senate a bill which ordered every armed vessel of the government, including gunboats, to be employed at once in active service. Gallatin saw in this measure only an intrigue of the Smiths and an attack upon the Treasury which would cost six million dollars without possible advantage to the public; but in fact the bill proved something more than an intrigue, for it showed the violence of New England reaction against the long starvation of the navy. Futile as was the scheme of manning gunboats in order to waste money which should have been spent on construction or magazines, New England was ready to join the Smiths or any other faction in any vote, however unreasonable, which promised employment for the seamen. Jefferson's system had shown its character most clearly in distrust and discouragement of the navy; and no one could wonder if the first sign of waning in his authority appeared in that department, or if Madison's first difficulties occurred in the weakest part of the old statesmanship.

Gallatin was taken by surprise, for the bill passed the Senate without serious opposition; but when it reached the House, January 10, the Treasury, through George W. Campbell, tried to strike out the clause which obliged the government to fit out and man all the vessels in the service without regard to the purpose of their employment. A number of Republican members, largely from New England, combining with the Federalists, defeated Campbell by a close vote of sixty-four to fifty-nine. In alarm at a measure which, before war was decided, threatened to take from the Treasury and throw into the ocean all the money reserved to support the first year of hostilities, Gallatin exerted himself to stop it. January 11, David R. Williams and the old Republicans came to his rescue with a motion to recommit, but they were again beaten by fifty-nine to fifty-eight. The next day John Montgomery of Maryland changed sides. By a vote of sixty-nine to fifty-three the bill was recommitted; January 13 the House in committee struck out the mandatory clause by fifty-three votes against forty-two; and January 16 the House accepted the amendment by sixty-eight votes against fifty-five. These divisions showed a considerable number of Republicans still acting with the Federalists; and in this respect the Senate was even less manageable than the House. Only after an obstinate struggle did the Senate give way so far that at last Congress agreed upon ordering four frigates to be fitted out, and as many gunboats as the public service might in the President's judgment require.

The reasons gives by the Senate for persisting in its plan were proof that something remained untold; for they showed the hand and influence of the Smiths, rather than the interests of Madison's coming Administration. David R. Williams, who was a member of the Conference Committee, reported to the House that the managers for the Senate gave three reasons for insisting on their bill:—

"The first of them was that they wanted a pledge from this House that it was willing to come forward and defend the nation; another was that these [frigates] were necessary to defend the gunboats in their operations; and a third, that men could not be got to enlist for the service of the gunboats, and that to remedy this evil they might be enlisted to man the frigates, and afterwards transferred."[12]

A Navy Department which used its frigates to defend gunboats and decoy seamen was hardly fit to be trusted with unlimited credit on the Treasury. Gallatin lost his temper at finding his authority threatened with overthrow by an influence which he knew to be incompetent, and believed to be selfish and corrupt. Irritated by the vote of January 10, the Secretary of the Treasury studied the division-list to learn whence came the hostile influence which formed what he called[13] "the navy coalition of 1809, by whom were sacrificed forty Republican members, nine Republican States, the Republican cause itself, and the people of the United States, to a system of favoritism, extravagance, parade, and folly." He found the central point in the "Smith faction, or ruling party," of which he declared Wilson Cary Nicholas to be file-leader in the House, with six votes. With these acted six New York followers of Vice-President Clinton, and five "scared Yankees." The others were merely misled Republicans or Federalists.

"The Smith faction, or ruling party," of which Wilson Cary Nicholas was file-leader in the House, and which never failed to make its influence felt in moments of trouble, had gained in the Senate an ally whose selfishness was equal to that of General Smith, and whose nature was far more malignant. Of all the enemies with whom Madison had to deal, only one in his own party was venomous. Old George Clinton, though openly hostile, possessed strong qualities, and in any event was too old for serious effort. Samuel Smith played the game of politics somewhat too much like a game of whist, in which he allowed his trumps to fall indifferently on his partners or on his opponents, whenever he saw the chance to insure a trick to his own hand; but Smith was still a man from whom in the last resort courage and energy might be expected, and in whom, selfishness apart, confidence could be placed. No such redeeming quality could be truthfully attributed to William Branch Giles, the senator from Virginia, the third member of the senatorial cabal who was about to place himself in the path of the Administration, and to apply his abilities and persistence to the deliberate task of blocking the wheels of government.

Giles had served his party long and well, and thought himself entitled to higher recognition than he had as yet received. In later times a safe seat in the Senate became almost the highest prize of politics,—men sometimes preferred it to a candidacy for the Presidential office itself; but in 1809 the Cabinet stood above the Senate, and Giles looked upon himself as entitled to the Department of State, and in due time to the Presidency. Madison, with a different view of the public good and of his own comfort, betrayed the intention of appointing Gallatin his Secretary of State; and Gallatin's fitness for the post was so evident as to make his appointment the best that could be suggested; but at the first rumor of the intention, Giles united with Smith in threatening to procure the rejection of Gallatin by the Senate. To deny the President the selection of his own Secretary of State was an act of factiousness which remained without a parallel; but Giles and Smith had both the will and the power to carry their point. Even Wilson Cary Nicholas remonstrated in vain.

"From the first," was the story told by Nicholas,[14] "Mr. Giles declared his determination to vote against Gallatin. I repeatedly urged and entreated him not to do it; for several days it was an object of discussion between us; there was no way which our long and intimate friendship would justify, consistent with my respect for him, in which I did not assail him. To all my arguments he replied that his duty to his country was to him paramount to every other consideration, and that he could not justify to himself permitting Gallatin to be Secretary of State, if his vote would prevent it."

Thus Gallatin's foreign birth—the only objection alleged against him—became the pretext for Giles to declare war against the coming Administration of President Madison. With the aid of Vice-President Clinton, Senator Samuel Smith, and the Federalists, Giles could control the Senate; and every factious interest which wished to force on Madison an object of its own was sure to ally itself with these intriguers until its object should be conceded. The Senate was already a hot-bed of intrigue, where William B. Giles, Timothy Pickering, George Clinton, and Samuel Smith held control; and unless Madison by some great effort of force or skill could crush Giles, in time not only the new Administration, but also the Union itself, might find a deadly danger in the venom of his selfishness.

At the close of January, affairs at Washington were trembling on a poise. The laws required for Madison's purpose were all passed save one; but the party was rent in pieces by faction. Discipline was at an end; the States of Massachusetts and Connecticut were openly adopting treasonable measures; and the great trial of strength—the decision of Congress on immediate repeal of the embargo—had not yet been reached.


  1. Pickering to S. P. Gardner; New England Federalism, p. 379.
  2. New England Palladium, Jan. 3, 1809.
  3. New England Palladium, Jan. 17, 1809.
  4. New England Palladium, Jan. 20, 1809.
  5. New England Palladium, Jan. 31, 1809.
  6. New England Palladium, Jan. 31, 1809.
  7. New England Palladium, Feb. 3, 1809.
  8. New England Palladium, Feb. 24, 1809.
  9. New England Palladium, Feb. 17, 1809.
  10. Annals of Congress, 1808-1809, p. 1100.
  11. Annals of Congress, 1808-1809, p. 1112.
  12. Annals of Congress, 1808-1809, p. 1185.
  13. Adams's Gallatin, p. 387.
  14. Adams's Gallatin p. 388.