Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 1.djvu/436

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Chapter 17: Monroe's Mission

After the letters sent to Europe by Dupont de Nemours in May, neither the President nor the Secretary of State again stirred before the meeting of Congress in December. The diplomacy of 1800 was slow. Nearly six months were required to decide upon a policy, write to Europe, receive a reply, and decide again upon an answer. An entire year was needed for taking a new line of action, and ascertaining its chances of success. In October, Madison wrote to Livingston that the President still waited to learn the impression produced at Paris by Dupont.[1] Livingston, on his side, had been active and unsuccessful. The President again wrote to him, by the October packet, a letter which would have perplexed any European diplomatist.[2]

"We shall so take our distance between the two rival nations," said Jefferson, "as, remaining disengaged till necessity compels us, we may haul finally to the enemy of that which shall make it necessary. We see all the disadvantageous consequences of taking a side, and shall be forced into it only by a more disagreeable alternative;
  1. Madison to Livingston, Oct. 15, 1802; State Papers, ii. 525.
  2. Jefferson to Livingston, Oct. 10, 1802; Works, iv. 447.