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mean first, returning no visits ; second, appointing certain days to receive them generally, (not to the ex. clusion, however, of visits on any other days under particular circumstances) and third, at first entertain. ing no company, and afterwards (until I was unable to entertain any at all) confining it to official characters. A few days evinced the necessity of the two first in so clear a point of view, that had I not adopted it, I should have been unable to have attended to any sort of business, unless I had applied the hours allotted to rest and refreshinent to this purpose ; for by the time I had done breakfast, and thence until dinner, and afterwards until bed time, I could not get reliev. ed from the ceremony of one visit, before I had to attend to another. In a word, I had no leisure tu road or to answer the despatches that were pouring in upon me from all quarters.
“ Before the custom was established, which now accommodates foreign characters, strangers, and others, who, from motives of curiosity, respect to the Chief Magistrate, or any other cause, are induced to call upon me, I was unable to attend to any business what
For gentlemen, consulting their own convenience rather than mine, were calling from the time I rose from breakfast, often before, until I sat down to dinner. This, as I resolved not to neglect my publick duties, reduced me to the choice of one of these alternatives ; either to refuse them altogether, or to appropriate a time for the reception of them. The first would, I well knew, Le disgusting to many ; the latter, I expected, would undergo animadversions from those who would find fault with or without cause. To please every body was impossible. I therefore adopted that line of conduct which combined publick advantage with private convenience, and which in my judgmont was unexceptionable in itself.
“ These visits are optional. They are made w.th. out invitation. Between the hours of three and four
every Tuesday I am prepared to receive them. Gen tlemen, often in great numbers, come and go, chat with each other, and act as they please. A porter shows them into the room, and they retire from it when they choose, and without ceremony. At their first entrance, they salute me, and I them, and as many as I can talk lo, I do. What pomp there is in all this, I am unable to discover. Perhaps it consists in not sitting : to this, two reasons are opposed ; first, it is unusual ; secondly, (which is a more substantial one) because I have no room large enough to contain a third of the chairs which would be sufficient to admit it. If it is supposed that ostentation, or the fashions of courts, (which, by the bye, I believe originate oftener in convenience, not to say necessity, than is generally imagined) gave rise to this custom, I will boldly affirm that no supposition was ever more erroneous ; for were I to indulge my inclinations, every moment ihat I could withdraw from the fatigues of my station, should be spent in retirement. That they are not, proceeds from the sense I entertain of the propriety of giving to every one as free access as consists with that respect which is due to the chair of government; and that respect, I conceive, is neither to be acquired or preserved but by maintaining a just medium between much state, and too great familiarity.
“ Similar to the above, but of a more familiar and sociable kind, are the visits of every Friday afternoon to Mrs. Washington, where I always am.
These publick meetings, and a dinner once a week to as many as my table will hold, with the references in and from the different departments of state, and other communications with all parts of the union, is as much, if not more, than I am able to undergo; for I have already had, within less than a year, two severe attacks ;--the last worse than the first : :-a third, it is more than probable, will put me to sleep with my fathers--at what distance this may be, I know not.” Vol. II.
At the commencement of the Presidency of General Washington, a variety of circuinstances combined to create anxiety and apprehension respecting the operations of the government.
The relation of the country with foreign powers was critical and embarrassing. Spain discovered jealousies of the American people, and manifested a disposition to check their progress to national wealth and strength. She had refused negotiation with the American government, and denied to its subjects the navigation of the Mississippi south of the boundary of the United States.
Between Great Britain and the United States, great causes of altercation existed. Just complaints of the non-execution of essential articles of the treaty of peace were mutually made, and an irritable state of mind appeared in both nations, which rendered the adjustment of the controversy the more difficult.
France early discovered a disposition to take advan. tage of the partiality of the American people, to gain an influence in their councils, and to acquire the control of their destiny.
The Indians, through the whole extent of the western frontier, manifested great inquietude. Their jea. lousies of the United States were supposed to have been excited by the intrigues of Spanish and British partisans, and most of the tribes assumed a very threat. i ning attitude.
In addition to these foreign difficulties, there wire considerations of a domestick nature, peculiarly calcu. lated to excite apprehension. The wholo plan of the Federal Government was
In no branch of it was there a precedent; but first principles and general rules were to be established in every department. The United States were without funds or revenue, and were destitute of publick credit.
Many distinguished characters, in different parts of
the Union, were from the first opposed to the Federal Constitution. Debates in state Conventions on its principles, had enkindled no inconsiderable degree of animosity. It had been ratified in them generally by small majorities, and in some instances this majority had been obtained, by annexing provisional amend. ments to the ratification. It was therefore to be apprehended that many of the members of the Legislature were hostile to the Constitution, and would, under the idea of amending, sacrifice its spirit, or by their opposition to every salutary measure, prevent an ex. periment of a republican form of Government, auspi. ciously begun, from being fairly completed.
Happily the American people retained their confidence in those distinguished statesmen, who had been their leaders in the controversy with Great Britain, which terminated in National Independence; and these statesmen, imitating at this crisis the publick spirit of the General of the revolutionary war, consented to forego the pleasures and emoluments of private life, for the service of their country. Many of them were the successful candidates for popular suf. frage to compose the Legislature of the nation, and the first Congress consisted of men eminent for their talents and political information, and venerable for their patriotism and virtue. A decided majority of these were the friends of the Constitution, and were disposed to make every exertion to carry it into execution upon a liberal and efficient plan.
One of the first acts of the Legislature was to esta." blish those departments which were necessary to aid the Executive in the administration of the government.
In filling these departments, the President was to perform an important and delicate duty. Applications for office had been numerous, and the following extract of a letter written to a friend, who had applied even before General Wa«Hovgton accepted the Presi
dency, will show the disposition with which he exe cu od this trust.
“ Should it become absolutely necessary for me to occupy the station in which your letter presupposes me, I have determined to go into it, perfectly free from all engagements of every nature whatsoever A conduct in conformity to this resolution, would en able me in balancing the various pretensions of different candidates for appointments, to act with a sole reference to justice and the publick good. This is, in substance, the answer that I have given to all applications (and they are not few) which have already been made. Among the places sought after in these applications, I must not conceal that the office to which you particularly allude, is comprehended. This fact, I tell you merely as a matter of information. My general manner of thinking, as to the propriety of holding myself totally disengaged, will apologize for my not enlarging further on the subject.
“ Though I am sensible that the publick suffrage which places a man in office, should prevent him from being swayed, in the execution of it, by his private inclinations, yet he may assuredly, without violating his duty, be indulged in the continuance of his former attachments."
His consequent nominations fully proved thc purity of these declarations, and attested that his selection of characters, for the respective offices to be filled, was made with great judgment and prudence. Removed from the influence of local and family considerations, he directed his attention to the publick interest. Where qualifications were equal, the candidate who could claim the inerit of publick service, had the preference in his appointment.
His cabinet was composed of Mr. Jefferson, Secretary of State, Colonel Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, General Knox, Secretary of War, and Me Edmund Randolph, Attorney General.