They had nothing to gain by it. Madison's instructions therefore rested on an idea which had no foundation, and which in face of the latest news from Europe was not worth considering; yet even if intended only for use at home, the instructions were startling enough to warrant Virginians in doubting their authenticity. The late Administration, British in feeling as it was supposed to be, had never thought an alliance with England necessary even during actual hostilities with France, and had not hesitated to risk the chances of independent action. Had either of Jefferson's predecessors instructed American ministers abroad, in case of war with France, to bind the United States to make no peace without England's consent, the consequence would have been an impeachment of the President, or direct steps by Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina, as in 1798, tending to a dissolution of the Union. Such an alliance, offensive and defensive, with England contradicted every principle established by President Washington in power or professed by Jefferson in opposition. If it was not finesse, it was an act such as the Republicans of 1798 would have charged as a crime.
While Madison was writing these instructions, he was interrupted by the Marquis of Casa Yrujo, who came in triumph to say that his Government had sent out a brigantine especially to tell the President that the right of deposit would be restored and continued
- State Papers, ii. 556.