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self have ventured on such a step, to a gazette in this city, which is
notoriously in the interest, and suspected on good grounds of beiiig
in the pay, of the French government ; - and in that gazette it was
published. From hence alone, without other proofs, it would be
manifest that the whole was a trick, contrived and executed for the
sole purpose of producing an effect upon the people of America, of
lulling this country by the hopes of peace and accommodation into a
fatal repose, of encreasing our divisions, of furnishing the French
party with pretences for opposing all our measures of defence and
preparation, and of raising a clamour against the government if it
should refuse to listen to this insidious overture.

Congress, however, did not fall into so very obvious a snare; but
continued to pursue its system of defence and preparation with un-
abated vigour. But as these letters contained a declaration that the
French government was ready to receive, in a proper and becoming
manner, any minister whom the President might authorize to treat
respecting an accommodation ; and as Mr. Talleyrand's permission to
shew the letters to our minister, and to give him copies for the purpose
of being transmitted to our government, might be considered as an
advance towards reconciliation on the part of the French government ;
the President thought it proper to meet this advance, and for that
purpose appointed three ministers who were approved by the senate.
These ministers are Oliver Elsworth chief justice of the United
States, Patrick Henry formerly governor of Virginia, and Mr.
Murray at present minister of the United States in Holland.^
They are not to leave this country, till they receive regular and

1 The words " between Mr. Talleyrand's clerk and " were struck out by Harper, as were
also, " and transmitted to the President with particular and unusual precautions," the
word " with " being substituted for the former phrase.

= The Aurora of Feb. 12 and 25 had referred to Talleyr-and's letters to Murray and
Pichon and the issue of Mar. 2 published Talleyrand's letter to Pichon with Adams's
message to the Senate.

3 Murray had been nominated Feb. 18, Ellsworth and Henry Feb. 25. Henry de-
clined to serve and William R. Davie, a Federalist of North Carolina, was appointed In
his stead. " Sen. Ex. Journ.", 1789-1805, 313, 317, 326.


formal assurances from the French government that they will be
properly received, and that ministers, duly authorized, will be ap-
pointed on the part of France to treat with them.

Thus stands this affair. The sincerity of the Directory in this pre-
tended wish for reconciliation, may be judged of from the circum-
stances which I have mentioned, and from an additional fact which I
have authority to state on the most accurate and undoubted informa-
tion. It is this:

Some time ago the Directory sent to St. Domingo, their principal
West-India possession, an agent of the name Hedouville.^ This
man, on his arrival, made some professions of justice and amicable
conduct towards the United States; but he soon equalled, and even
exceeded, his predecessors in depredations on our commerce. — Last
summer, while Mr. Gerry was still in Paris, and the Directory was
employing every artifice to keep him there, and to draw him into an
endless negociation, Hedouville was preparing to invade the southern
states from St. Domingo, with an army of blacks; which was to be
landed with a large supply of officers arms and ammunition, to excite
an insurrection among the negroes by means of missionaries previ-
ously sent, and first to subjugate the country by their assistance, and
then plunder and lay it waste. For the execution of this humane
and friendly scheme, he waited only till the English should evacuate
a certain port in the island which lay most convenient for the expedi-
tion; but he was interrupted by a black general of the name of
Toussaint, who drove him from the island, compelled him to em-
bark for France, and took the whole authority into his own hands.

This scheme came to our knowledge in the following manner. A
very rich ship from the East-Indies, valued at nearly seven hundred
thousand dollars, was taken last summer by one of Hedouville's priva-
teers. The owners, merchants of this town, employed a man of hon-
our and character, well known here and well acquainted in the West-
Indies, to go and endeavour to purchase the ship at a low rate. He
went to St. Domingo for that purpose; and, while there, conversed
with some of the black officers who were to be employed in the expedi-
tion. As he spoke their language well, he was led to cultivate an
acquaintance with them; and from them, in their moments of con-
viviality, he learned the project. I have it from him, through a per-
son of the highest confidence.

Hence may we learn to appreciate the professions of the French
government ; and the wisdom or honesty of those counsellors, who per-
petually tell us that there is no danger of an invasion from France,
and no need to prepare against such an event.

1 Gabriel Marie Joseph Theodore, Count d'Hgdouville (1755-1825), was made gov-
ernor of Santo Domingo in 1797. He was driven from the island about two years latet
by Toussaint I'Ouverture, who had been made commander-in-chief of the French forces
on the island in 1796.


Respecting the state of affairs abroad our accounts are still various
and uncertain. It is, however, certain, that the king of Naples^ has
renewed tire war against the French in Italy ; and, from his manner
of doing it, there is little doubt of his acting in concert with the
Austrians, whose movements for some time past have indicated
hostile designs. Very direct though unofficial accounts have been
received, of a complete victory over the French, by a part of the army
of the king of Naples. The French, it is said, were 20,000 to 25000,
and defeated with 5000 killed and taken. Should this be true, and
there is some reason to believe it from the manner in which the ac-
count comes, it may be considered as the forerunner of a general war
and great events. It has been the usual fortune of the French to
overrun countries by their impetuosity, and hold them for a while ; and
then to be as suddenly driven out. It is not improbable that the
same fate awaits them now ; and this defeat by the troops of Naples,
if the account of it be true, may be considered as the commencement
of their downfal.

The accounts respecting the destruction of Buonaparte and his army,
have neither been confirmed as yet, nor contradicted. I always con-
sidered his destruction as very certain, from the moment when he was
left, without hope of recruit or supply, in the midst of an hostile and
unhealthy country, where we know that his army suffered every want
and hardship, and whose inhabitants, hj his own account, fought him
perpetually and with great bravery. At any rate he is lost to France ;
for, cut off as he is by the loss of his fleet from all hope of return or
communication, he cannot assist her in the new struggle wherein she
seems to be on the point of engaging. This cannot fail to have a
very considerable effect on her success. The terror of his name was an
host ; and he has with him not only her best troops, but a great num-
ber of her best officers. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to
conjecture how she may act towards us. I have no doubt, however,
that she will attempt to disarm us by deceitful appearances, and pro-
fessions of a wish to negociate; but I neither believe that she will
keep peace with us if we disarm, even should she make one, nor at-
tempt to strike us while we remain on our guard. Our wisdom, I
cannot repeat it too often, consists in a state of watchful and vigorous
preparation. She assumes an air of mildness for the present ; as she
did towards the Swiss before she was prepared to strike the fatal
blow ; but we ought never to forget that " The Tyger always crouches
before he leaps on his prey."

The Russians and Turks, it seems, have conceived and expressed a
wish to be on friendly terms with us, and to form treaties of com-

* Ferdinand IV (1751-1825). Harper's information here was certainly not cor-
rect. The French had defeated the Neapolitans early in the year 1799 and the Par-
thenopean Eepublic had been proclaimed Jan. 23.


merce. The President has thought fit, and very wisely as far as I
can judge, to cultivate this disposition; from which great advantages
in the trade of those nations may accrue to us. He has, therefore,
directed our minister in England ^ to treat with the Russian min-
ister ^ on the subject ; and our minister in Portugal ^ to repair to
Constantinople for the same purpose. This advance, on the part of
those remote but powerful nations, is a pleasing proof of the encreas-
ing importance and respectability of our country.

I find that in speaking of our domestic affairs, I have omitted one
circumstance of great importance and a most satisfactory nature; as
it shews, in a very striking manner, the stability of public credit, the
confidence reposed in our government, and the extent of our financial
resources. I mean the loan. Last year the President was impowered
to borrow five millions of dollars for the public service. The money
was not wanted last year, but in the course of this there will be need
of it. A loan was therefore opened, and an interest of 8 per cent,
offered. The subscription was kept open one day; in the course of
which no less than fourteen millions eight hundred thousand dollars
was subscribed ; of which the public accepts five millions only. That
sum together with the ordinary revenue, amounting to something
more than ten millions, will be sufficient for all the expenses of the
present year. Thus it appears that if the public had wanted fifteen
millions instead of five, the money might have been procured.

Some persons have been of opinion that this money might have
been borrowed on better terms. Perhaps it might : but it was better
to offer a handsome interest, and make sure of success, than to rislc a
failure which must have had the most unfavourable effect on our
affairs. In the mean time, a right is reserved to the government of
paying off the whole loan at the end of ten years. Consequently, if
circumstances should be favourable at that time, a new loan may be
made, at a lower rate of interest, for the purpose of paying off this.

There are still, my dear Sir, many things which probably it would
be agreeable to you to hear; but these appeared to me the most im-
portant ; and as you must be pretty well tired by this time, as well as
myself, I conclude, with presenting to you the respects and best
wishes of

your very humble servant.

1 Rufus King (1755-1827), minister to England from 1796 until ISaS.

2 Count Vorontsov. King was nominated to negotiate a commercial treaty with
Russia, Feb. 6, 1799, and the nomination ratified Feb. 7. "Sen. Ex. .Tourn.", 1789-1805,
310. For an account of the negotiations see Hildt, " Diplomatic Negotiations of the
United States with Russia" (Jobns Hopkins University Studies, XXIV), 31-3S ; also
" Correspondence of King," IT, 463-464, 552-553, 568-570, III, 26-30, 141, 165.

s William Smith of South Carolina, minister to Portugal 1797-1801. He was nomi-
nated for the Turkish mission Feb. 8, 1799, and his nomination confirmed Feb. 11. " Sen.
Ex. Journ.", 1789-1805, 311-312.


Bayard to Bassett.

Philadelphia, ^S Jany., 1800.
Dear Sir: I feel that I have been guilty of some neglect in not
writing to you oftener. But in the first place you know it is an
employment I do not like and in the second my engagements of late
have been such that I have been obliged to neglect even my wife.

The share I take in debate occupies me in the House of Eepre-
sentatives, and the Committees of which I am a member leave vacant
but a small part of the rest of the day. Yesterday I had occasion to
make a very long speech in defence of the report made by the Comee.
appointed upon the message of the President of the 14 Inst, and
Mr. Randolphs letter.^ Our debates the day before were vei-y warm
on an amendment which I proposed to Mr. Macon's resolution for the
repeal of the sedition Bill.^ The Party would have had a complete
triumph had it not been for the amendment. Their defeat was at-
tended with much vexation and resentment.

We shall retain our system of defence. We mean however only
to keep our ground and to advance no further. We shall suspend
recruiting but maintain the militarj'' establishment as it now exists.
The other measures of defence formerly adopted will be supported.
The existing plan calls for more money than the amount of our
revenue. A new loan will be necessary. It will not exceed however
three millions.

We contemplate essential alterations in the judicial system. The
Committee on the subject have gone no farther at present than to
compare their different views. I can clearly perceive how the im-
portance of our State is to be encreased by a new arrangement, and
I shall certainly not neglect an opportunity of advancing the im-
portance of little Delaware.

The Papers have communicated to you the late important news
from Europe. The nature of the revolution which has taken place

ijohn Randolph of Roanoke (1773-1833) was serving his first term in the House.
His first speech in the House, in which he styled the army and navy a handful of raga-
muffins, had given offense to a group of officers, who showed their indignation by rudeness
to Randolph at a theater not long after. His indignant letter to the President, was
referred to the House. "Annals ", 6 Cong., 1 sess., 377-388, 426-507. For Bayard's
speech see ibid., 431-441.

2 Macon's resolution was as follows : "Resolved, That the second section of the act,
passed the fourteenth of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, entitled
' an act in addition to the act. entitled "An act for the punishment of certain crimes
against the United States," ' ought to be repealed ; and the offences therein specified shall
remain punishable as at common law. Provided, that, upon any prosecution, it shall be
lawful for the defendant to give in evidence, in his defence, the truth of the matter
charged as a libel." Bayard moved this addition : "And the offences therein specified
shall remain punishable as at common law ; provided, that upon any prosecution it shall
be lawful for the defendant to give in his defence the truth of the matters charged as a
libel." "Annals ", 6 Cong., 1 sess., 404-425.


in France does not clearly appear.^ But that a revolution has taken
place no one doubts but the Editor of the Aurora.^ Tell Kodney ^
that Mr. Jefferson believes it, and therefore he need not discredit it.

It is not certain whether the revolution is in favor of Royalism or
produces only a new modification of Jacobinism,

It is evident however that France is doomed to great sufferings.
The storm which she has been endeavouring to drive over Europe
seems ready to break upon her own head. Monarchy cannot be re-
established without deluging the country with blood. And yet the
nation must cast a longing eye to some port which can shelter them
from the perpetual tempest of Jacobinism.

I have read your address to the Legislature which certainly has
the merit of being well composed. I must shew the President what
you say of him.* The old man loves to be tickled now and then.

I understand the Legislature have directed money to be invested
in the 8 Pcent stock.

Nothing could be more indiscreet than to purchase any stock of
the United States. If you make the U. States your Debtor, do you
not remind her that she is Your creditor? I cannot express to you
the strong sense I have of the folly of the measure.

I speak upon this subject from a better Imowledge of the interest
of the State than any man in it can have. The thing must not be

I must trust to Your looking after my affairs at Bohemia, for it is
not in my power.

Bayard to Bassett.

Philada., 1 Feby., 1800.
Dear Sir : Yesterday I received your letter of the 27 Ult. I per-
ceive at the date my last had not reached you. I gave you an im-

1 By the coup d'etat of Nov. 9 (19 Brumaire) the Directory had fallen and Napoleon
had become First Consul.

2 William Duane (1760-1835) had become editor of the Aurora in 1795. See " Re-
marljs " in the Aurora for Jan. 24, 1800.

3 Caesar A. Rodney (1772-1824), Democratic member of Congress from Delaware
1803-1804, a member of the ways and means committee, and one of the managers in the
impeachment of Judge Chase. From 1807 to 1811 he was attorney-general of the
United States.

* For this address, which was delivered Jan. 10, 1800, see " Journal of the House
of Representatives of the State of Delaware", 1798-1801, 10-15. Of Adams Bassett
spoke as follows : " Notwith!5tanding the loss our country has sustained by the departure
of our illustrious friend [Washington], yet I feel happy in observing that Providence
has been, and still is kind to us as a nation. We are not left without a man who fears
God, and works righteousness : A man eminently distinguished, tried, and beloved : Vir-
tuous from principle, great in council, and firm in execution. Such a man I trust now
presides over the United States, whose whole soul has been, and I believe still is, en-
gaged in the support of the General Government, and the happiness of the people ; and
who, I have a firm confidence, hath marked the road, and will continue to walk therein,
of his late highly favoured and exalted predecessor, which leads undoubtedly to immor-
tality and eternal glory" (p. 11).


perfect sketch of the system of conduct congress was likely to adopt
at its present Session.

For some days past we have been labouring very hard to carry
thro the House our Bankrupt Bill.^ The Antis have discovered
that it will add strength to the federal compact, and they make every
exertion to defeat it. It had like to have been lost upon the question
of engrossing.

It was kept alive only by the casting vote of the Speaker- tho'
Nicholas^ (who will never forgive himself for the blunder) voted
with us thro' civility. Since that we have been obliged to intrigue
and negotiate in order to gain strength and we have not been without

Accommodation has been the worst instrument we have made use
of. Gentlemen have been indulged with amendments which have
half spoiled the Bill. But we are determined to have it upon any
Terms we can get it.

It was unpleasant to learn the late conduct of your Legislature,
and I was the more pained as my friend Ridgely was implicated in
the charges the most discreditable. The thought of money oppresses
his understanding. It obscures his views and absolutely debilitates
his moral faculties. He can never be a Statesman. If the little plan
of penury which he espouses were adopted only as a bait for popu-
larity I should have hopes of him. But he is sincere, and the whole
man must be changed, in order to effect a cure. If he ever comes into
Congress he will support the Government in trifles while he cuts its
sinews. I lament this part of Ridgely's character because I have
great esteem for him as a Friend.*

I enclose the plans of a corn crib and barn furnished by Vickers.
I submit the whole to you. If j'^ou approve of the plans and think
the estimate reasonable you please to direct him to make arrange-
ments for the buildings.

I designed to have written you a longer letter, but my friend
General Lee^ has paid me a long visit this morning and I am now
obliged to dress for dinner being engaged out.

1 Bayard had, in January, 1798, served on a committee appointed to report a bank-
ruptcy bill : in December, 1798, another committee hafl been appointed for the same pur-
pose ; again, on Dec. 5, 1799, Bayard was made chairman of a committee for this purpose.
The bill v;as reported on Jan. 6, was debated Jan. 21 and 31, and passed the House Feb.
21 by the vote of the Speaker. "Annals ", 6 Consr., 1 sess., 247, 388, 508, 534.

* Theodore Sedgwick (1746-1813) of Massachusetts, member of the House from
1789 to 1796, of the Senate from 1796 to 1799, when he returned to the House and was
elected speaker.

* John Nicholas (1761-1819) of Virginia, member of the House from 1793 to 1801.

* This paragraph probably refers to the fact that the committee on claims had re-
ported to the Delaware house of representatives, Jan. 21, advising that the claim of the
governor for certain expenses be disallowed. Nicholas Ridgely (1762-1830), who had
served as attorney-general of the state, was a member of this committee. " Journal of
the Delaware House of Representatives ", 1800, 51.

•Gen. Henry Lee (1756-1818), a member of Congress from 1799 to 1801.


With Love to Mrs. B.

p. s. — We shall make enquiries on the subject of the Portrait,*
but how far will you go as to price ? We must know this before we
say a word. The work done by a Master cannot be expected for
less than 100 to 150 guineas.

What will Ridgely say to this?

Bayard to Bassett.^

Philad., March 8, 1800.

Dear Sir: We have just taken the vote on Livingstones resolutions
and have negatived them 61 to 34.^

I had an interview with Mr. Stewart,* the Limner this morning
and the terms he insists on for a painting corresponding with the
resolution are 600 dollars. He states it as his fixed price. The
frame will cost additionally 150 dollars. The work cannot be com-
pleted in less than a year.

Let me hear from you on the subject before I leave Town.

1 wrote to you this morning by the mail.

Harper to his Constituents."

Philadelphia, April 7th, 1800.
My Dear Sir: As the most interesting intelligence at present, is
that which relates to our Commissioners lately sent to France,*' I
thought it best to postpone writing till I could tell you something
on that subject. This was not in my poAver till three days ago,
when the first intelligence was received from them. It was brought by
the frigate which carried them out. From these accounts it appears
that they first touched at Lisbon, on the 27th of November last, for
the purpose of gaining some intelligence about the state of things in
Europe, and particularly in France; and that after being detained
for some time at that port by contrary winds, they sailed for a
French port on the 21st day of December. On their passage they
met with head winds and storms, which at length obliged them to
put into a port in Spain ; where they arrived on the 11th of January

iThe Delaware legislature had voted to purchase a portrait of Washington, Ridgely
moving that the sum expended should not exceed $400. This motion, however, had been
lost. " Journal of the House of Representatives of Delaware ", ISOO, 40.

2 From the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Dreer Collection, American Lawyers,
vol. L

s The resolutions censured the President for directing the judge of the district court of
South Carolina to deliver Jonathan Robbins to the British government for trial for
murder. The 'Annals " give the vote as 61 to 35. "Annals " 6 Cong., 1 sess., 618-619.

* Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), who lived in Philadelphia from 1794 to 1803.

sprinted in the Charleston City Gazette, May 23, 1800.

•Ellsworth and Davie. They had sailed on the United Statea.


last. Immediately after their landing they dispatched an express
to Paris, to give the French government an account of their arrival,
and to request passports for enabling them to travel through France.
After refreshing themselves for some days, they proceeded on their
journey towards Paris through Spain; at a town of which called
Burgos they met their express, with their passports, and a letter
from the French government in very polite terms, informing them
that they had been impatiently expected for a long time, and that
the change which had lately happened in the French government ; ^
would occasion no difficulty in their reception or negociations. From
this town their letters were dated. They were to leave it about the
10th day of February, and will probably have reached Paris about
the middle of March. Nothing further has been heard from them
Lince, nor probably will be for some time to come.

It appears from this account, that the French government is dis-
posed to treat this embassy with more civility than the former
received at their hands ; but v>'hether they will be better disposed now

Online LibraryAmerican Historical AssociationAnnual report of the American Historical Association (Volume 1913, v.2) → online text (page 11 of 64)