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che mode of making treaties under the Constitution of the United States.
“ Having been a member of the General Conven. tion, and knowing the principles on which the Cosesti. tution was formed, I have ever entertained but one opinion upon this subject; and from the first establishment of the government to this moment, my conduct has exemplified that opinion. That the power of making treaties is exclusively vested in the President, by and with the consent of the Senate, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and that every treaty so made, and promulgated, thenceforward becomes the law of the land. It is thus that the treaty making pow. er has been understood by foreign nations; and in all the treaties made with them, we have declared, and they have believed, that when ratified hy the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, they became obligatory. In this construction of the Constitution, every House of Representatives hos heretofore acquiesced ; and until the present time, not a doubt or suspicion has appeared to my knowledge, that this construction was not the true one. Nay, they have more than acquiesced; for until now, without controverting the obligations of such treaties, they have made all the requisite provisions for carrying them into effect.
“ There is also reason to believe that this construction agrees with the opinions entertained by the State Conventions, when they were deliberating on the Constitution ; especially by those who objected to it, because there was not required in commercial treaties, the consent of two thirds of the whole number of the members of the Senate, instead of two thirds of the Senators present; and because in treaties respecting territorial, and certain other rights and claims, the concurrence of three fourths of the whole number of the members of both houses respectively, was not made necessary.
“ It is a fact declared by the General Convention and universally understood that the Constitution of
the United States was the result of a spirit of amity and mutual concession. And it is well known, that under this influence, the smaller states were & tmitted to an equal representation in the Senate with the larger states; and that this branch of the government was invested with great powers; for on the equal participation of those powers, the sovereignty and political safety of the smaller states were decmed essentially to depend.
“If other proofs than these and the plain letter of the Constitution itself be necessary to ascertain the print under consideration, they may be found in the journals of the General Convention which I have deposited in the office of the Department of State. In these journals it will appear, that a proposition was made, that no treaty should be binding on the United States, which was not ratified by a law; and that the proposition was explicitly rejected.
“ As therefore it is perfectly clear to my understanding that the assent of the House of Representatives is no: necessary to the validity of a treaty ; as the treaty with Great Britain exhibits in itself all the objects requiring legislative provision; and on theso the papers called for can throw no light; and as it is essential to the due administration of the government, that the boundaries fixed by the Constitution between the different departments should be preserved ; a just regard to the Constitution, and to the duty of my office, under all the circumstances of this case, forbid a compliance with your request.”
A resolution moved in the House to make the necessary appropriations to carry the British treaty into effect excited among the members the strongest emotions of human nature, and gave rise to speeches highly argumentative, eloquent, and animated. The debate was protracted until the people assumed the subject In their respective corporations, meetings were holden, the strength of parties was fully tried, and it clearly
appeared that the great majority were disposed to rally around the Executive. Innumerable petitions were presented to Congress praying them to make the re quisite appropriations.
Unwilling to take upon themselves the consequences of resisting t.le publick will, Congress made the ap propriations.
It was not in the administration of the government only, that General Washington found it necessary to exercise great caution and prudence. The convulsions of France and the political divisions of the United States, rendered it expedient that he should be circumspect in his personal friundships, and in the exercise of benevolent offices towards individual characters.
A sincere friendship had been formed between him and the Marquis La Fayette. This friendship was not disturbed by those vicissitudes in France, which occasioned the exile and foreign imprisonment of that nobleman. These rather increased the sensibility, and strengthened the attachment of the President towarde the unfortunate Marquis. But on account of the state of parties in France and America, interpositions in his favour wero privately inade. The American Ministers at Foreign Courts were directed in an unofhcial manner to exert themselves to obtain his liberation, or to render his confinement less oppressivo. A confidential agent was sent to Berlin to solicit lis liberty ; but before he reached his place of destinatinn, the King of Prussia had surrendered the Marquis to the Einperor of Gorinany. Mr. Pinckney, then at the Court of London, was directed to intimuie the wishes of the President to the Austrian Minister at that Court, and to solicit the influence of the British Cabinet in favour of the illustrious prisoner. Disap pointed in the expected mediation of Great Britain, the President addressed the following letter imm diately to the Emperor of Germany.
“ It will readily occur to your Majesty that occasions may sometimes exist, on which official considerations would constrain the Chief of a nation is be si. lent and passive in relation even to objects which affect his sensibility, and claim his interposition as a man. Finding myself precisely in this situation at present, I take the liberty of writing this private letter to your Majesty, being persuaded that my motives will also be my apology for it. “ in common with the people of this country,
I retain a strong and cordial sense of the services render. ed to them by the Marquis La Fayette; and my friend. ship for him has been constant and sincere. It is natural, therefore, that I should sympathize with him and his family in their misfortunes, and endeavour to miti. gate the calamities they experience, among which his present confinement is not the least distressing.
“I forbear to enlarge on this delicate subject. Permit me only to submit to your Majesty's consideration, whether his long imprisonment, and the confiscation of his estats, and the indigence and dispersion of his family, and the painful anxieties incident to all those circumstances, do not form an assemblage of sufferings, which recommend him to the mediation of humanity? Allow me, sir, on this occasion, to be its organ; and to entreat that he may be permitted to come to this coun. try on such conditions, and under such restrictions as your Majesty may think it expedient to prescribe.
“ As it is a maxim with me not to ask, what under similar circumstances, I would nct grant, your Majesty will do me the justice to believe, that this request appears to me to correspond with those great principles of magnanimity and wisdom, which form the basis of sound policy and durable glory.”
This letter was sent to Mr. Pinckney, and was by him transmitted through the Austrian Minister to the Emperor. From this period the Marquis was treated
with more mildness, and was soon after discharged from his confinement; but what influence the President's letter had on these measures is not known.
In 1795, George Washington Motier La Fayette, the son of the Marquis La Fayette, made his escape from France, and arrived with his tutor at Boston. He immediately by letter communicated his situation to General WASHINGTON, and solicited his advice and patronage. The mother of young Fayette was then in France, and the President was surrounded by Frenchmen, the agents or friends of the aduinistration, which had denounced the Marquis. These men were ready to denounce every act of favour done to a man who was proscribed by the French Government. From regard to the safety of that lady, and from prudential considerations in respect to his ovn official character, he thought it unadviseable to invite him im. mediately to the seat of government, and publickly to espouse his interest. But he wrote confidentially to a friend in the neighbourhood of Boston, requesting hirr to visit the young gentleman, to acquaint him with the reason which rendered it inexpedient that he should be invited into the President's family, and, to adopt the language of the letter, to “ administer als the consolation that he can derive from the most une quivocal assurances of my standing in the place, and be coming to him a father, friend, protector, and supporter
“ Considering how important it is to avoid idleness and dissipation—to improve his mind—and to give him all the advantages which education can bestow, my opinion and my advice to him is, (if he is qualified for admission) that he should enter as a student at the University in Cambridge ; although it should be for a short time only. The expense of which, as also for every other means for his support, I will pay; and now do authorize you, my dear sir, to draw upon me accordingly. And if it be desired that his tutor should accompany him to the University, any expense that