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CHAPTER V.

THE NEW NATION.

ence

ton's first in.

Slowly, as befitted the successor of the Confederation, the new governmental organization came into exist

Washingthe moribund Congress of the Confederation prolonging its existence, that there might be auguration,

1789. no break in the continuity of the lives of the two federal organizations. Finally, however, the two Houses of Congress met, the electoral vote was counted, and Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States (April 30th, 1789). This first inauguration was a simple and impressive ceremony. English customs and traditions were the rule for ceremonial and social intercourse in those early days. Washington had been accustomed to the glitter and pomp of the little court of the Governor of Virginia; and he seems to have believed that a limited appeal to men's senses in matters of dress and ceremonial was good in itself. At all events, the new government began its career with a solemn stateliness, well suited perhaps to the grandeur of the enterprise and to the character of its first chief; but which, before many years, proved to be distasteful to many voters. As an example of this adherence to custom, may be mentioned the speeches with which the first two Presidents were accustomed to open the sessions of Congress after the manner of opening Parliament. The custom was also followed of the two Houses presenting

addresses in answer to the speech, to which the President replied in a few words of thanks. As has been the case in England, it not infrequently happened that two, perhaps even all, of these documents were the work of the same ready penman. Then, again, Washington, unlike later Presidents, refused to be shaken by the hand, but holding his right hand behind him, he bowed stiffly to those who paid their respects to him. These, and other things which savoured somewhat of royalty, were unfortunate, in that they gave colour to the charge — entirely without foundation so far as Washington and Adams were concerned — of a design to introduce a monarchical form of government. Washington might well have been pardoned if his head had been turned. His birthday was celebrated as a holiday. As he travelled through the country in the recesses of Congress, he was greeted at one place as “Columbia's Saviour,” and sped on his way at another with cries of “God bless your reign.” Washington, in 1789, was in no sense a party man. He had been chosen to his high office by the unanimous suffrage of the whole nation. He desired to heal the wounds which the sharp contest over the ratification of the Constitution had made, and to interest the best men of all shades of opinion in the success of the new government. Franklin was now an old man. John Adams was Vice-President, John Jay became the first Chief-Justice of the United States, and James Madison at this time was most usefully employed as administration leader in the House of Representatives. The most prominent man not in political life was Thomas Jefferson, Minister to France, but now at home on a leave of absence. To him, Washington offered the foremost place in the administration, the Secretaryship of State, which Jefferson accepted. Born in 1743, Jefferson was now in the prime of life. His

political theories, formed in the heat of the con

test with the mother-land, were the same in 1790, Jefferson.

1798, and 1825 that they were in 1774 and 1776.

Thomas

v.]

Jefferson and Hamilton.

137

Alexander Hamilton.

A sublime faith in humanity and a firm reliance on the ultimate judgment of the people made him the expounder of the principles of democracy in the crises of 1776 and 1798. The means adopted by Jefferson to secure his ends were often repellent in the extreme; but this should never blind one to the ends for which he was working. Jefferson had been in France during the recent years (1781-87) of weakness and disaster which had converted so many men, Gerry and Madison, for instance, to the cause of strong government. On the contrary, an intimate contact with the French Revolution in its earlier and better period had served to confirm him in the opinion that "government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed."

Opposed to Jefferson in every way was Alexander Hamilton, once Washington's aide-de-camp and now Secretary of the Treasury and the busiest man in the administration. Hamilton was younger than Jefferson, being at this time about thirty-three years of age. He was a native of the British West Indies, and found his way to New York in search of an education. The traditions of colonial institutions, so far as they departed from English precedents, had had slight influence on him. Like Jefferson, he had made up his mind on political subjects at an early period, and the events of 1781-87 had only strengthened his à priori theories. While only twenty-two years of age, he had written to Robert Morris, then at the head of the financial administration, proposing to enlist the influence and interest of men of position and means in the success of the Revolution. He proposed to accomplish this by means of a loan and a national bank. This was Hamilton's position ever afterwards. The following sentences, culled from speeches he made in 1787, will further elucidate his political opinions. Among “the essential principles necessary for the support of government," he numerated (1) "the love of power"; (2) "force, by which may be understood a coercion of laws or a coercion of arms”;

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