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REMARKS ON THE PROCEEDINGS IN
JANUARY 20, 1797.
THE following message from the President of
the United States was communicated to the two Houses.
Gentlemen of the Senate, and of the House of
Representatives, At the opening of the present session of Congress, I mentioned that some circumstances of an unwelcome nature had lately occurred in relation to France; that our trade had suffered, and was suffering, extensive injuries in the West Indies from the cruisers and agents of the French Republic; and that communications had been received from its minister here which indicated danger of a further disturbance of our commerce by its authority, and that were, in other respects, far more agreeable: but that I reserved for a special message, a more particular communication on this interesting subject. This communication I now make,
The complaints of the French minister embraced inost of the transactions of our government in relation to France, from an early period of the present war; which, therefore,
it was necessary carefully to review. A collection has been formed of letters and papers relating to those transactions, which I now lay before you, with a letter to Mr. Pinckney, our minister at Paris, containing , an examination of the notes of the French minister, and such information as I thought might be useful to Mr. Pinckney, in any further representations hc inight find necessary to be made to the French government. The immediate object of his mission was to make to that government such explanations of the principles and conduct of our own, as, by manifesting our good faith, might remove all jealousy and discontent, and maintain that harmony and good understanding with the French Republic, which it has been my constant solicitude to preser ve. A government which required only a knowledge of the truth, to justify its measures, could not but be anxious to have this fully and frankly displayed.
G. WASHINGTON. UNUTED STATES, ?
January 19, 1797. }
To give the letter, accompanying this message, is impossible ; nor would its insertion here, perhaps answer any useful purpose ; as it has already been published both in the public papers and in a pamphlet. It is, however, necessary to observe, that it should be read and well remembered by every one, who is interested in the honour and happiness of this country. Adet's charges against the Federal Government, which were combated in the November Censor, have here met with a more ample refutation : reasoning that never can be overturned, because founded on facts that never can be denied. The notives of the insidious friendship of the French, from first to last, are completely unveiled: in place of a debt of gratitude, it is now clear that America owes them nothing but resentment and contempt : resentment for their treachery, and contempt for their threats.
Upon the reasonable supposition, that very few, if any of my readers, ever see the Gallican Gazette
of Benjamin Franklin Bache, it may not be amiss to take notice of the censure with which this clumsy tool of an unprincipled faction has honoured the publication of Mr. Pickering's letter.
" The Executive pretended that they wish to preserve a “ good understanding with the French Republic, and yet “ they are pursuing every mode which can have a tendency to
embroil us with that country. The letter of man Timothy
to Mr. PINCKNEY is a strong evidence of this intention. “ This letter endeavours insidiously to criminate the Reo
public for the conduct of the monarchy, and contains as “ much irritation as could be conveyed from the administration. " What is most remarkable is, that ihe letter is designed as a
guide to our minister, and yet is published here before it “ can have possibly reached France, and indeed when it “ must be believed that the publication and the letter itself « will reach that country at the same time. Is the matter
or manner of this letter in the style of conciliation ?
" Does it not, on the contrary, breathe a disposition to o excite new recriminations on the part of the Directory? " Does it not seem designed to close the door of ainicable 66 accommodation? Would the publication have been made, 06 unless there existed a disposition in our governinent to put “ France at defiance? If accommodation was the object, " would the reflections have been made public against the • French nation? That a letter designed as a kind of instruc66 tion to our minister should have been made public before " ic reached him, is one among the absurdities which have " characterized the adıninistration. If a restoration of hare “ mony was in the serious contemplation of the Executive, - he would have transmitted the letter and have kept the
Directory ignorant of its irritating contents until every
prospect of accommodation was at an end, and then it " would have been time enough to make it known in justifica“ tion of the administration; but to do it at this time strongly
implies a disposition to excite such resentinents as shall
put reconciliation entirely out of the question. It has ever “ been the opinion of those who observed the conduct of the “ Executive, that they were the enemies of the French Re. “ public, their declarations to the contrary notwithstanding, 16 and if
additional evidence was necessary to establish so the belief, the letter to Mr. PINCKNEY will not leave so doubt on the mind of any unprejudiced American.” VOL. IV, 2
Does not this sound well from the man, who justified Citizen Adet's contemptuous appeal from the government to the people? Who published that appeal, and who, lest its seditious tendency should be defeated by delay, published an abstract of it, with a commentary still more inflammatory than the appeal itself?
The French have a right to do whatever they please : insult, beat, tread upon : brave the government, accuse it of every crime that malice can invent; but the governinent of the United States must not think of retaliating, nor even of justifying itself to those, before whom it has been so falsely and insolently accused! The suspended Adet tells the people of America, and the whole world, that the Federal Government has issued a declaration of irisidious neutrality; that it acts by chicane ; that from the courts of justice no justice is to be expected ; that the treaty with France has been violated; that, in short, the conduct of the government has been marked by every trait of cowardice and perfidy. The President would have been fully justified in a perfect retaliation ; that is, in causing the refutation of these calumnious charges to be published in France, and that too in a language equally daring with that of Citizen Adet; but he has thought this beneath the respect due to himself and to the nation with whose confidence he has so long been, and yet is, honoured. He has, therefore, been content with justifying his conduct in the eyes of his constituents. Yet this is too much for the full grown grandchild of Doctor Franklin : it is “irri$6 tating," and calculated to “ close the door of .“ amicable negotiation.” It is irritating for a man .to deny the falsehoods that have been vomited forth against him, and to prove, to those who have invested him with power, that he has not betrayed his trust.