Constitutional History

All attempts to make peace with the Indians having failed, the war was renewed. Gen. Wayne was appointed to succeed Gen. St. Clair. On the 20th of August, he gained a decisive victory over a large body of the Miamies, and then proceeded to lay waste their country. This victory prevented a general war with the Six Nations and with the tribes northwest of the Ohio. The 'Whisky Insurrection' in Pennsylvania is one of the events of this year. It grew out of the duty on domestic spirits; this tax pressed heavily on the inhabitants of the west, and was besides considered unjust in principle. The proclamation of the president being disregarded, a considerable force of militia (fifteen thousand men) under Governor Lee of Maryland, was ordered out. On their approach, the insurgents laid down their arms, and promised submission to the laws.

In 1795 Mr. Jay having concluded a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, with Great Britain, the senate was convoked to consider it. Meanwhile, its contents having been disclosed, the most violent opposition was made to it; public meetings were held, and petitions against it were sent from all quarters of the country. The partisans of France and the enemies of England denounced it in the most unmeasured terms. The objections to it were, generally, that it wanted reciprocity; that it gave up all compensation for negroes carried away contrary to the treaty of peace, and for the detention of the western posts; that it contravened the French treaty, and sacrificed the interest of our ally to that of Great Britain; that it gave up in several important instances the law of nations, particularly in relation to free ships makings free goods, cases of blockade, and contraband of war that it improperly interfered with the legislative powers of Congress, and that the commercial part gave few advantages to the United States. The treaty was, however, ratified by the senate, and signed by the president, August 14, 1795.

In October, after a long negotiation, a treaty was made with Spain, settling some questions of boundary, and acquiring for the United States the right of navigating the Mississippi. Treaties were also concluded with Algiers, and with the Indians in the West.

On the assembling of congress in 1796, it became necessary to make appropriations and pass resolutions for carrying these treaties into effect. This gave occasion for a new display of hostility to the British treaty: and it was only after a debate of seven weeks, that the necessary resolutions passed the house of representatives, and then only by a majority of three. Public opinion at length gradually settled in favor of this treaty, as the only means of saving the country from becoming involved in the wars of the French revolution; and in the sequel it proved of great advantage to the United States. The close of the second term of Washington's administration was now approaching. Signifying his intention to retire from public life, the Father of his country took occasion to issue a farewell address to his countrymen, replete with maxims of political wisdom, and sentiments of patriotism and virtue.

The personal influence of Washington, due alike to his wisdom, his virtues, and his eminent services, was of the utmost importance in the first working of the new government. During the eight years of his administration, all differences with foreign nations had been peaceably settled, except those with France; and at home the Indian tribes had been pacified. Public and private credit were restored; ample provision made for the security and ultimate payment of the public debt; American tonnage had nearly doubled; the exports had increased from nineteen to more than fifty-six millions of dollars; the imports in about the same proportion; and the amount of revenue from imposts had exceeded the most sanguine calculations. The population had increased from three and a half to five millions; and agriculture and all the industrial interests of the country were in a flourishing state.

The only drawback to this picture of prosperity were the difficulties with France. Discontented at the neutral policy of America, the French republic continued to make demands upon the gratitude of the United States, which could be yielded to only by surrendering the right of self-government. Finding all attempts to involve America in its wars with Europe ineffectual, and feeling aggrieved at the treaty with its enemy, the French government proceeded to retaliate, by adopting certain resolutions injurious to American commerce, under the operation of which moreover, several hundred American vessels were seized and confiscated just before his retirement from office, Washington had recalled Mr. Monroe, and despatched Mr. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney to France, as minister plenipotentiary, to settle the difficulties between the two nations. Such was the state of the country at the close of Washington's administration.