« AnteriorContinuar »
The American People in 1800.
one of the best examples of the play of State lines, as well as of the results which slavery had already produced in the social development of the South. Slavery was practically extinct in the North, every State, except New Jersey, having since 1780 abolished slavery or set on foot some scheme for gradual emancipation which, as a matter of fact, ended in abolition. In the South, many far-seeing men, like Washington and Jefferson, were anxious to have the slaves in that quarter emancipated. But this was impossible, as the slaves formed such a large portion of the invested capital of the country. It could have been brought about only through purchase, in one form or another, by the national government. The funds for this purpose must have been largely, if not entirely, drawn from the North, and the people of that section having freed their own slaves without assistance would probably have been very unwilling to contribute to the aid of the South. This seems to have been the only moment when the slaveowners might have been bought out on reasonable terms and without bloodshed, and no such plan was even mentioned. The recent invention of the cotton gin combined with important inventions in the machinery for cotton spinning and weaving gave a tremendous stimulus to the production of cotton. After the cultivation of that staple on a large scale had become common in the South, slavery could be abolished only by war. The American people still clung to the Atlantic seaboard, with the exception of two or three communities which had sprung up west of the mountains. tion with the The conditions of transportation had made Mississippi scarcely any progress since 1760. Four roads or paths led from the seaboard over the mountains - two of them leading to the northern portion and two to the southern portion of the Ohio valley. About four hundred thousand settlers- including slaves- inhabited these vast solitudes between the mountains and the Mississippi. Separated by a
wilderness from the older States, the new settlements were a constant menace to the Union. The isolation of these western hamlets is comparable only to that of the inhabitants of some of the remote river valleys of Europe in the medieval time. Jefferson regarded the rapid colonization of the western lands with alarm. No one could have foreseen at that time (1800) the changes which the introduction of the steam locomotive and the steamboat would make in the political aspects of the new world. It is almost safe to say that the political results which have flowed from the introduction of steam have equalled in importance for America the economic results. Without easy communication of some kind in the years 18001860 the area now occupied by the United States, if settled at all, must have been possessed by several different political organizations having varied and divergent interests.
In the art of living, the people in 1800 were where their fathers had been forty years before. In letters and learning there had been a slight advance, and the beginnings of a new era might even then be discerned. The religious oligarchy still maintained its hold on the New England intellect, but its days were numbered. The colleges seemed to be at a standstill — there were fewer students at Harvard in 1800 than in 1700. Philadelphia was still the literary and intellectual centre of the country, but even there during these years there seems to have been retrogression rather than advance. The American people was absorbed in repairing the havoc and waste of years of war and anarchy. This attempt had been successful, as an examination of the census returns will show.
Social condition, 1800.
The year 1792 is the first year for which we have trustworthy returns. Let us compare a few of the statistics for that year with those of 1800. The total exports were valued in 1792 at twenty millions of dollars, in 1800 at seventy millions. In 1792 the imports were valued at thirty-one millions against ninety-one millions in 1800.
Material growth, 17921800.
Fefferson's First Inauguration, 1801.
The income of the government had risen in this time from three million six hundred thousand dollars to ten million six hundred thousand. The federal expenditure, exclusive of interest on the national debt, had increased from one million eight hundred thousand to over seven millions. These figures show at once the increase in prosperity which followed the adoption of the Constitution, and also the success which had attended Hamilton's efforts to build up a large governmental establishment and to draw to it the revenues of the country. The very magnitude of the federal receipts and payments alarmed Jefferson.
The country did not have long to wait before it became conscious that with Jefferson a new order was to Jefferson's be introduced into the government. Instead of Inaugural Adproceeding in coach and four to the inaugura- dress, 1801. tion ceremonies, as had been customary, Jefferson walked to the capitol, read his inaugural address and took the oath of office. A few sentences from this address will serve to show that Jefferson, in becoming President, did not intend to abandon the theories of a lifetime. "The sum of good government," to his mind, was "a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labour the bread it has earned." As to his late opponents, he desired conciliation, saying, "We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists." By this he meant, no doubt, that the mass of the Federalist party was composed of honest men who would be Republicans if they were well informed. He then laid down the broad lines of his policy, as follows: "Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; economy in the public expenditure, that labour may be lightly burdened; the honest payment of our debts, and sacred preservation
of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information, and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason; freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of the person. . . . Should we wander from them [the above principles] in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety." Anticipating our narrative, for a moment, it may be said that Jefferson so managed matters that in four years' time the Federalist electoral vote fell from sixtyfive to fourteen.
The new President was very fortunate in the selection of his leading advisers. He placed Madison at the head of the State department and Gallatin at the head of the Treasury. Two Massachusetts men, Dearborn and Lincoln, were Secretary of War and AttorneyGeneral, respectively. The first three of these four men remained Jefferson's chief advisers during the eight years of his administration. The Republican President found the government offices occupied by Federalists. Among these office-holders were some of the most bitter opponents of the administration. One of these was Goodrich, formerly a Representative from Connecticut, who had resigned his seat to accept from President Adams the Collectorship of Revenue at New Haven. Nowhere was Federalism more rampant than in Connecticut. President Dwight of Yale College, situated at New Haven, probably expressed the opinions of many leading Federalists in the following remarkable sentences written soon after the inauguration: "We have now reached the consummation of democratic blessedness. We have a country governed by blockheads and knaves; the ties of marriage with all its felicities are severed and destroyed. . . . Can the imagination paint anything more dreadful on this side hell?" It chanced that a young man named Bishop, at about this time, delivered an address defending
Changes in the Civil Service.
The Civil Service.
Republicanism before the literary societies of the college over which Mr. Dwight presided. Jefferson removed Goodrich from the collectorship and appointed the father of this young orator to the place. The matter attracted attention out of all comparison with its importance. It must be conceded that Jefferson believed that a party containing more than one-half of the voters of the country was entitled to a participation in the offices maintained by the nation. But in the first fourteen months of his administration, he removed only sixteen office-holders without assigning adequate reasons. To one office-seeker, who asserted that the Republicans were entitled to the offices as saviours of the country, he is said to have answered that "Rome was once saved by geese; but I have never heard these geese were made revenue officers." So far from using the government offices to reward his followers, Jefferson cut down the civil service, and thus to a considerable extent deprived himself of the means of so doing. As to Adams's "midnight appointments" he felt free to complete them or not as he chose, and he even refused to deliver commissions which Adams and Marshall had left properly signed at the moment of their hasty exit from office. The new federal courts were abolished by Act of Congress, and no one seriously questioned the constitutionality of the act. The judges of the Supreme and District courts of the United States held their offices for life. They were all Federalists, and so, too, were the minor officials of these courts. Jefferson felt that it was unwise to leave a great and important department wholly in the control of a party which the people had repudiated. He removed as many of the inferior officials as possible, substituting Republicans in their places. An attempt was also made to secure a place on the bench of the Supreme Court through the impeachment of Samuel Chase, one of the Associate Justices; but it failed owing, in some measure, to the mismanagement of the impeachers. The cautious temperaments of Jefferson and Marshall prevented any further conflicts, and