Journal of William Maclay/Third Session of the First Congress/As to Re-election
Philadelphia, December 1, 1790. — Late in the afternoon I arrived in Philadelphia in order to attend Congress, which is to meet on Monday next. Saw nobody this afternoon nor evening.
December 2d. — Dressed and called first on General Mifflin. He was abroad. Then on Mr. Morris, who received me with frankness. Called on the President, Clymer, and at Fitzsimons'. The day soon became rainy. Came home. Heard from my brother in the evening that some attempt was making on the Sunbury lands by one Sewell and Hurst. This has cut out work for me in the morning.
December 3d. — Dressed and went early to the Governor's. He was at breakfast, and had four school-boys about him making them show him their Latin exercises, repeat their lessons, tell what books they were reading, etc. So much does he love to be the cock of the school that he seems actually to court the company of children, where he is sure he will meet with no contradiction. His tongue ran like a whirligig. There was no getting a word in among the children. I had, however, considerable attention paid to me by two dogs, who pawed me over. I learned that no decision had been given by the Board of Property in the case of the Sunbury lands. Took the first opportunity I possibly could of withdrawing. No public character ever appeared to me more disgusting.
Called on David Kenedy, of tie Land-Office, and made what we thought the best arrangement respecting the affair of Sunbury.
Met with Mr. Langdon and went a-visiting, in which we spent the forenoon. Called in the evening at Mr. McConnell's, the broker. He told me the public creditors were very busy under their chairman, Petitt, preparing petitions, memorials, etc., for Congress. I made some remarks tending to show that they were well enough for the purpose intended. He readily joined me; said it was carried on to answer electioneering purposes; that Petitt wanted to be in Congress, etc. Petitt is my old enemy, and will supplant me if he can. Agreed.
December 4th, Saturday. — I have deliberated much on the subject whether I will call to see Bingham, Powell, and others. I have called on Morris, Clymer, and Fitzsimons. Why not on them? By the rules of etiquette, perhaps, they should call on me. I have resolved all over in my mind. Jacta est alea, and I will go. But as I went I fell in with Mr. Clymer, and away we went a-visiting. Clymer certainly means to be on good terms with me. We had two long visits. I called at Bingham's. Found him at home and had a long chat. Took leave and left a card at Mr. Powell's. Called at Mr. Chew's, who urged me to stay for dinner. I accepted his invitation for two o'clock, and the rest of the day was accordingly disposed of, for it was past three before we sat down.
I called twice this day at Dr. Rush's, but saw him not. Saw the Speaker. The Speaker said, on the authority of Dr. Rush, that we would all be re-elected. Believe it not.
December 5th, Sunday. — Was sent for early by Mr. Morris on the subject of taking up the frontier lands. I agreed to procure him a draft of such parts of the State as had vacant lands in them. No contract with him. I mean to have such a draft made for the use of the members of the Assembly, or at least for their information. Pressed me to dine with him. Did so.
Mr. Powell returned my visit. Visited Langdon in the evening.
December 6th, Monday. — My brother informed me this morning that Charles Thompson had applied to one Collins, a member from Berks County, for his interest to obtain my place as Senator. It comes very direct, and was talked over yesterday at Blair McClenachan's, where Matthew Irwin dined, from whom my brother [Samuel Maclay] had it. Out some of the citizens would have me, if they should put the devil in my place. This is what I must expect of them.
Attended at the Hall at eleven. Senate was formed, but no business done save the sending a message by our Secretary to the Representatives that the Senate was ready to proceed to business.
Spent the rest of the day in visits, etc.
December 7th. — Went early this morning to see ,if Mr. Montgomery, of our county, or Mr. White were come in. Found none of them. Called at Mr. Findlay's lodgings on my way home. He said he would call on me in the evening. Colonel Curtis spent some time this forenoon with me.
Attended at eleven at the Hall. A House was formed by the Representatives. On the 7th of January last King had introduced a new record altogether on the minutes, the intention of which was to secure the delivery of the President's speech in the Senate chamber. A resolution verbatim, with the entry of last January, was moved, carried, and sent down for concurrence. While this was done with us, a resolution passed to the Representatives for a joint committee waiting on the President with information that quorums were formed in both Houses. Our Secretary and the Clerk of the Representatives passed each other on the stairs with their respective resolutions. Each House appointed committees under their own resolutions, and the committees met. The Representatives urged that it was idle to name any place to do business in until it was known whether any business would be done. The President was in our favor.
This silly thing kept us talking an hour and a half. The Clerk of the Representatives announced the non-concurrence of our resolution. This had like to have raised a flame, but a motion was at length made and carried for the concurrence of the resolution which came up. The joint committee now waited on the President, who charged them with information that he would to-morrow at twelve o'clock deliver his speech to both Houses in the Senate Chamber, and so ended this arduous affair. The Senate adjourned.
The first levee was held this day, at which I attended.
At about seven o'clock Mr. Findley called on me. We had a long conversation, or at least a busy one, for about an hour. I must be blind, indeed, if I did not see that he is doing every thing in his power to supplant me by way of preparing me for the part which he was about to act. He first told me that Gurney and he had some conversation, which would seem to impart that John Montgomery, of Carlisle, was the man to supplant me. I mentioned it as a matter that would savor too strongly of cabal to take one of file electing members. This threw him off his guard, and he spoke rather tartly of my remark, and alleged there could be nothing in it; said "if I am elected I will serve, but I will take no part in the matter, and I will give you leave to blame me if I do." This sentiment he reiterated more than once. He kept looking at his watch incessantly and was in evident perturbation from the time I hinted the impropriety of one of the electing members being chosen. When I hinted that some complaints had been raised against my brother, he alleged it was so; that 1 likewise had made proposals to Colonel Smith, which he insinuated had not been adhered to. I told him what I recollected of the discourse between Colonel Smith and myself, and said I had entered into no engagements with him or any other one on the occasion.
December 8th. — This was the day assigned for the President to deliver his speech, and was attended with all the bustle and hurry usual on such occasions. The President was dressed in black, and read his speech well enough, or at least tolerably. After he was gone, and the Senate only remained, our Vice-President seemed to take great pains to read it [the speech] better. If he had such a view, he succeeded; but the difference between them amounted to this: one might be considered as at home and the other in a strange company. The speech was committed.
I could not help taking some pains to counteract Mr. Findley. But my situation is a critical one. I must stand with open breast to receive the wound inflicted by my adversaries, while the smallest endeavors on my part, either to obtain favor or to remove misrepresentation, is called begging of votes by pretended though false friends. I will, however, do what I think proper, for to attempt pleasing every one would be to carry the ass, indeed.
Findley drew away my mind for a moment. Let me return to the President. Does he really look like a man who enters into file spirit of his appointment? Does he show that he receives it in trust for the happiness of the people, and not as a fee simple for his own emolument? Time and practice will, perhaps, best elucidate this point.
December 9th. — This day the Senate afforded neither motion nor debate. The communications hinted at in file President's speech were delivered to us, and continued to be read till past two o'clock, when the Senate adjourned. A war has actually been undertaken against the Wabash Indians without any authority of Congress, and, what is worse, so far as intelligence has come to hand, we have reason to believe it is unsuccessful. Mind what comes of it.
The Vice-President, Mr. Wyngate, and some more of us, stood by the fire. When the affairs of France were talked, I said the National Assembly had attacked royalty, nobility, hierarchy, and the Bastile altogether, and seemed likely to demolish the whole. The Vice-President said it was impossible to destroy nobility; it was founded in nature. Wyngate engaged. The Vice-President's arguments were drawn from the respect shown to the sons of eminent men, although vicious and undeserving. When file parties had nearly exhausted themselves, I asked whether our Indians might not be considered as having devised an excellent method of getting rid of this prejudice by ranking all the children after the mother. This sent off the whole matter in a smile; Adams, however, never was cured, or is relapsed into his nobilimania. After we were seated and a slack moment happened, Mr. Morris drew his chair near mine and hinted to me that Bingham's unanimous vote for the Speaker's chair was the price of his influence in favor of Findley. I said I thought likely. But Bingham had obtained his end, and might now be on file other tack.
December 10th. — This day was unimportant in the Senate. The committee reported an answer to the President's speech. The echo was a good one, and was adopted without material amendment.
A packet had arrived a few days ago from France, directed to the President and members of Congress. The President, from motives of delicacy, would not open it. It came to the Senate, and was sent back to the President, and now returned opened. It contained a number of copies of the eulogiums delivered on Dr. Franklin by order of the National Assembly. Our Vice-President looked over' the letter some time and then began reading the additions that followed the President's name. He was Doctor of the Sorbonne, etc., to the number of fifteen (as our Vice-President said). These appellations of office he chose to call "titles," and then said some sarcastic things against the National Assembly for abolishing titles. I could not help remarking that this whole matter was received and transacted with a coldness and apathy that astonished me; and the letter and all the pamphlets were sent down to the Representatives as if unworthy the attention of our body. I deliberated with myself whether I should not rise and claim one of the copies in right of my being a member. I would, however, only have got into a wrangle by so doing without working any change on my fellow-members. There might be others who indulged the same sentiments, but 'twas silence all.
December 13th. — The Senate having adjourned over from Friday to this day [Monday], nothing of public nature has taken place. I was engaged Saturday and this morning in negotiating the sale of some certificates, which I completed, and placed the money in the bank.
The minutes were read about half after eleven, and the committee on the business reported that the President had appointed twelve to receive our address. Twelve soon came, and we went on this formality, which finished the senatorial business of the day.
This day completed the sale of Mr. Harris's certificates at the most either Bobby or myself could make of them. Got a check on the bank and put the whole in part notes.
December 14th. — Attended the Senate, but no business of moment was transacted. Official information was communicated to the Senate of General Hamer's expedition. The ill-fortune of the affair breaks through all the coloring that was given to it. 'Tis said one hundred Indians have been killed. But two hundred of our own people have certainly perished in the expedition.
This was levee day, and I accordingly dressed and did the needful. It is an idle thing, but what is the life of men but folly? — and this is perhaps as innocent as any of them, so far as respects the persons acting. The practice, however, considered as a feature of royalty, is certainly anti-republican. This certainly escapes nobody. The royalists glory in it as a point gained. Republicans are borne down by fashion and a fear of being charged with a want of respect to General Washington. If there is treason in the wish I retract it, but would to God this same General Washington were in heaven! We would not then have him brought forward as the constant cover to every unconstitutional and irrepublican act.
December 15th. — This day was really a blank in the Senate. Two petitions were presented which, being only counterparts of what were expected to be acted upon in the Lower House, were laid on our table. Mr. Morris was called often out by our own citizens. The doorkeeper named the people who sent in for him. Peter Muhlenberg was one, Colonel Hartley was another. This day certificates raised fourpence in the pound.
December 16th. — I, this day, attended the Board of Property. There never was a more groundless persecution than has been set on foot against me, and is now supported by one Rowls, the same with whom my brother quartered last winter. He seems determined to injure my reputation if possible. I had to oppose him, and there certainly never was a clearer case. It was, however, agreed that my brother's deposition should be taken, and the Board to meet to-morrow. I was taken away the whole day by this vile business.
December 17th. — Got my brother's deposition and attended at the Board, having first heard prayers and sat a half hour at the Hall. Rowls was at the Board, and displayed every pettifogging shift and evasion. He is really a rascal, and all this matter is pushed by him to injure me at my ensuing election. I have letters from my dear child Johnny, telling me that he had information of this kind.
I spent the residue of the day in various other pieces of business.
December 18th. — Being Saturday and excessively cold, stayed at home all day. Was visited by Madison, Bishop, and White, and many other respectable characters.
Settled with Mr. Ogden. His bill in full for the coupé carriage, horse, and lodging for two weeks, ending the 15th at night, and all the washing heretofore done, £4 7s. 7d. Paid off, and he has ten dollars in his hands to stand opposite firewood. The rate of boarding, three dollars per week, exclusive of firewood, at least it is so by this bill.
This night it is reported that the six-per-cents were at par.
December 19th, Sunday. — The cold continued. Dined out with Mr. Powel. Spent the most of the day in writing letters to home.
December 20th, Monday. — Paid some visits. Attended at the Hall. Congress were engaged until almost three with the reading of a long and most impudent memorial from the public creditors. Paid visits, etc. The weather abated, and prospect of a thaw.
December 21st, Tuesday. — The memorial and remonstrance of the public creditors engaged us some time. I saw, or at least I thought I saw, a storm gathering in the countenances of the Senators yesterday, and moved an adjournment. I told Mr. Morris of it, and he agreed it was so, and for fear of this same storm he moved an adjournment this day. But Schuyler had a long motion. It concluded with the "danger" and "inexpediency" of any innovation in the funding. A variety of opinions were now offered as to the time of proceeding tomorrow. Monday, Friday, and Thursday were all spoken of, and Thursday agreed to take it up.
This day the Governor of our State was proclaimed. Mr. Morris spoke early to me. His words were, "I expect every moment to hear from the delegation who are now meeting to fix a time to wait on the Governor, and I will let you know of it." I waited, but heard nothing from him.
December 22d. — I called this morning on the Comptroller, and he was obliging enough to send for Mr. Smilie, and did my character justice in respect to sundry aspersions cast on it by Mr. Findley and Smilie.
I came home; was dressed and went out to visit about ten. Came to the Hall about eleven. Here Mr. Langdon told me that Mr. Morris and the delegation were just gone to wait on the Governor. I posted after and thought to overtake them. Called on the Governor; was sure I would find them there. It was not so. Was sure they would come in every moment. They did not come in. I returned to the Hall; found Mr. Morris there. He apologized: said he got the notification yesterday in company; the time was half after ten. He had sent his servant up with the note to me. I asked at my lodgings. No note was there, nor had anybody seen the servant. From the drift of dust and feathers you see how the wind blows.
Paid my boarding up to last night; three dollars.
I can not help wishing myself honorably quit of the enviable station. What a host of enemies has it not raised about me, with calumny and detraction in every corner! Fate but grant me this, that their dissensions and cabals may protect the election until my period be expired, and if you find me in this city twenty-four hours longer, inflict what insult you please on me. Placed on an eminence, slander and defamation are the hooks applied to pull me down. It is natural to make some efforts to disengage one's self from such grapplings, yet even the slightest endeavor of this kind is reprobated as an attempt to procure votes. What a set of vipers!
December 23d. — Visited this morning to near eleven. Attended at the Hall. Mr. Morris was late in coming. And now the resolution respecting the public creditors, or rather in answer to their memorial; was taken up. Every mode was tried to let them down easy, as the phrase is. Great accommodation was tried to get Mr. Morris to come into the measure, and it really seemed that more than once he was satisfied with Elsworth's modification of the resolution. King offered a second one, or, perhaps, I might say, a fourth one, which was adopted. Mr. M. told me he would agree to it. But a number rose for the yeas and nays. Mr. Monroe, of Virginia, desired to be excused, and was so. Mr. Morris was the only nay. I was in good humor myself, although I considered the vote of this day as waging a war with the public creditors, in which I will most probably lose my re-election, and was sorry to see my colleague manifest such a degree of obstinacy and peevishness. He left the Senate chamber immediately after the vote.
A vote for the inexpediency of altering the funding system at this time, from a person who uniformly opposed the system in its passage into a law, may seem to require some apology. My vote proceeds not from an approbation of the funding system, but from a total disapprobation of the memorial now before us. Upon republican principles, I hold the voice of the majority to be sacred. That the funding law has obtained that majority is undeniable, and acquiescence is our duty; but I never will subscribe to a blind and unalterable one. The making debts irredeemable and perpetual is a power that I am convinced posterity will spurn at. The Western lands are the natural fund for the redemption of our national debt It is now unproductive. Perhaps the fault is ours that it is so. As soon as it is otherwise, I would be happy to see all stock made strictly personal, unalienable, and incapable of descent or any negotiation, save commutation in lands; and let it die with the obstinate speculator who refuses such commutation. The stockholder, to any amount, is an unproductive character — worse, he is the tool of a bad administration. A good one needs none. It is enough that we have seen one generation of them. Let us not perpetuate the breed; their children, cut off from such expectations, will be restored to industry.
It is a fact that the six-per-cents are now nearly at par, or at least this appearance is kept up among the speculators. An act passed hastily just at the close of the last session directed the borrowing two millions of dollars with design of buying in the public debt and lessening it. The real object was the increasing it by raising the value. Three millions of florins have been borrowed in pursuance of this law. The Board of Purchase named in the law completed their purchase of November at about 12s. 4d. on the face and 7s. 3d. arrears. It was natural to expect this would be about the standing value, but, by one effort of impudence, par was demanded in three days on the appearance of the Treasurer's advertisements.
December 24th. — The papers full of the advertisements this day of stock of every kind for sale, and there is no doubt but the show of sales nearly at par will be kept up in order to save appearances and cover the advance prices which are daily given by the Board of Purchase through the medium of the Treasury. This whole matter of purchasing in stock to sink the debt, ostensibly, has really no other object but to raise the value of it, and so to make immense fortunes to the speculators who have amassed vast quantities of certificates for little or nothing. I did not think it possible that mankind could be so easily duped, and yet there never was a vainer task than to attempt to undeceive them.
Very little was done in the Senate to-day. Sundry communications were made from the Representatives relating to the settlement on Port St. Vincennes, on the Wabash. Which was laid on our table.
Yesterday the Secretary's [Hamilton's] report on the subject of a national bank was handed to us, and I can readily find that a bank will be the consequence. Considered as an aristocratic engine, I have no great predilection for banks. They may be considered, in some measure, as operating like a tax in favor of the rich, against the poor, tending to the accumulating in a few hands; and under this view may be regarded as opposed to republicanism. And yet stock, wealth, money, or property of any kind whatever accumulated, has a similar effect. The power of incorporating may be inquired into. But the old Congress enjoyed it. Bank bills are promissory notes, and, of course, not money. I see no objection in this quarter. The great point is, if possible, to prevent the making of it a machine for the mischievous purposes of bad ministers; and this must depend more on the vigilance of future legislators than on either the virtue or foresight of the present ones.
December 25th. — This, being Christmas-day, dined with Parson Ewing, and had the task of hearing him rail almost all the time I was with him against Congress. He talked of demonstration and mathematical proof of the impositions which he had sustained. But he really did not understand the laws. I waived all altercation with him as much as I could. He had the terms rogue and cheat very familiarly at his fingers' ends, or, I should rather say, at his tongue's end. He, however, talked of selling out.
I was this day assured that the six-per-cents were above par. The law for purchases allows the overplus money in the Treasury, after satisfying the appropriations, to be laid out in the purchase of certificates as well as the two million dollars to be borrowed abroad. It was originated and passed after I left New York, and is certainly the most impudent transaction that I ever knew in the political world. I regret my being absent when it passed, although my presence could have had no effect whatever on the progress of it further than I would have borne my testimony against it. This nominal reduction is a virtual raising of the whole value of the debt. Something of this kind, I have heard, is common in England. When governments attempt a purchase of any kind of stock, the holders of that kind of stock never fail to raise the residue. Hamilton must have known this well. Our speculators knew all this. They have a general communication with each other. They are actuated by one spirit, or, I should rather say, by Hamilton. Nobody, generally speaking, but them buy. It is easy for them, by preconcert, to settle what proposals they will give in; and, these being filled, the commissioners are justified in taking the lowest. I can not, however, help predicting that when the florins are out there will be a crash and the stocks will fall.
December 26th. — Being Sunday, my brother agreed with me that we would visit Dr. Logan. This man has every testimony, both of practice and profession, in favor of his republicanism. He has been in the Assembly of Pennsylvania, and there had it in his power to have formed a coalition with the city interest. He has, however, continued firmly attached to the rural plans and arrangements of life and the democratic system of government. His motto is, "Vox populi vox Dei." But mottoes and professions nowadays are as the idle wind which no one ought to regard unless supported by practice; and scarce can you depend on practice unless you see it embracing interest. This has been in some degree his case. We had been but a little while with him when we were joined by Judge Burke, of South Carolina. This was the very man who, while in New York, railed so tremendously against the Quakers, and against Pennsylvania for having Quakers. Behold a wonder! Now he rails against slavery, extols Quakers, and blazes against the attentions showed to General Washington, which he calls idolatry; and that a party wish as much to make him a king as ever the flatterers of Cromwell wished to raise him to that dignity.
Dr. Logan has Oswald's [news] paper at his devotion, and I can see that Burke will discharge many of his sentiments through this channel. Burke said many just things, but he is too new a convert to merit confidence. I find, however, on examination, that this is the same man who wrote against the Cincinnati.
December 27th, Monday. — I received just after breakfast a letter from Mr. Harris, and spent the day mostly in buying things which were to go by the man who brought the letter, he being a wagoner. Just as I came out of the door of the Hall, Hartley had fallen and broke his arm. I was among the first to show him every attention that his situation required, and the more especially as I have reason to consider him as inimical to my reappointment; to the Senate of the United States. This day produced nothing of importance in the Senate. My attention to Hartley prevented my returning into the Senate chamber.
December 28th, Tuesday. — Attended the Senate as usual. A slight debate took place respecting a law for continuing permission to the States of Rhode Island, Maryland, and Georgia the power to levy certain duties of tonnage for the purposes of repairs on their respective ports. The bill was recommitted, with two additional members added to the committee.
This being levee day, I attended in a new suit. This piece of duty I have not omitted since I came to town, and if there is little harm in it there can not be much good. Jackson looked shyly at me this day. I observed his eye upon me, and it had, in my opinion, something of the malignant in it. But I never cared less for court favor. I really feel a thirst to return to my family, and, although I will feel the pang which the insult of being rejected will inflict, yet, perhaps, a re-election might be among my misfortunes.
December 29th. — This day a blank in the Senate with respect to any business of importance. Mr. Morris told me I was blamed for not going among the members and speaking to them, etc. What a set of vipers I have to deal with! One party watches and ridicules me if I am seen speaking a word to a member. In order to avoid the censure of them I have rather secreted myself from the members, and the fault is fixed on it.
William Montgomery called this evening to tell me that he must go home on account of the indisposition of his wife. This is, perhaps, a vote out of pocket, but can not be helped.
I called this evening at the lodgings of some of the members who were out. Fitzsimons had often said he was at home in the evening, and desired me to call. I drank tea with him and the family. Sat a good while. The chat was various. He did not touch the subject of my re-election. He did not come with me to the door when I took my leave — as much as to say, I want no private communication. Be it so. If I want help, I need not look to him for it. Whatever is, is best, and I have little doubt that my rejection, if it takes place, will be best.
The character of Brackenridge was introduced. Fitzsimons said he came down in the State Legislature once. We took notice of him, and he embarked for us like a barrister through thick and thin. But he sold himself by it, lost his popularity, and we have never seen him since. He accompanied this with a loud laugh, which is uncommon with him, as his risibility seldom exceeds a dry smile or a sarcastic grin. Mrs. Fitzsimons cried out: "How insufferably cruel is that, my dear! You first mislead the man, and now ridicule him for the consequences of his mistakes." She did not just say the devil does so, but something not unlike it. It gave my friend Thomas Fitzsimons the fiats, for he hardly said a word afterward.
December 30th. — I called this day on sundry members of the Assembly. As I came home I called at Boyd's, the place where all the plots are laid against me. Findley talked confidently. Smiley and Boyd rather seemed to oppose him. But I have a right to consider myself as among a den of thieves. I need never cross this threshold again. Advances to them are idle.
Attended the Hall at the usual time. A communication from the President respecting the prisoners at Algiers, fourteen of whom only are alive, was delivered to the Senate. Read and committed to the Committee on the Mediterranean Navigation. Did some business about the offices. Called and sat a good part of the evening with White, who had two of the Lancaster members with him — Carpenter and Brickbell. I need say nothing more to them. They now know me. From White I had much information of the malignant whispers, innuendoes, and malevolent remarks made respecting me. It was painful, and I could not refrain demanding of him what or whether any charge was made against me. No, no; nothing in particular, but everybody says: "The people don't like you; the people won't hear of your re-election." Who are they that say so? "The leading members of the Assembly, officers of the Land-Office, citizens of Philadelphia, and others." Query: Is not the same spirit that dictated the ostracism at Athens, the petalism at Syracuse, and similar measures in other places, still prevalent in the human mind and character? The true cause of these banishments, whether by the oyster-shell or the olive — leaf, was really to remove a blameless rival out of the way of less deserving competitors for office by the name and clamor of the people when no other cause could be alleged against him. In this way is there not in every free country, where the competition for office is laid open, a constant ostracism at work on the character of every man eminent for worth or talents? These arts will, no doubt, prevail on many occasions, but they will now be universally successful. When they do, We must submit to them as in some measure inseparable from republicanism.
December 31st. — Attended at the Senate this day, where nothing was done of any consequence. Sundry papers relating to the inhabitants of Port Vincennes, or Vincent, on the Wabash, were committed. I was one of the committee.
I went a-visiting with Mr. Langdon. Dined this day with Mr. Morris. I can observe in general rather a coolness of the citizens toward me. Be it so. I will endeavor not to vex myself much with them.
This is the last day of the year, and I have faithfully noted every political transaction that has happened to me in it. And of what avail had it been? I thought it possible that I would be called on with respect to the part I had acted in the Senate by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, or at least by some of them; but is there a man of them who has thought it worth while to ask a single question? No. Are they not, every man of them, straining after offices, posts, and preferments? At least, every one of them who has the smallest chance of success? Yes, verily. Nor is there a man who seems to care a farthing how I acted, but wished me out, to make a vacancy. Reward from men it is in vain to look for. It is, however, of some consequence to me that I have nothing to charge myself with.
Having some leisure on hand, I have looked over my minutes for the last month. It is with shame and contrition that I find the subject of my re-election has engaged so much or any of my thoughts. Blessed with affluence, domestic in my habits and manners, rather rigid and uncomplying in my temper, generally opposed in sentiments to the prevailing politics of the times; no placeman, speculator, pensioner, or courtier — it is equally absurd for me to wish a continuance in Congress as to desire to walk among briers and thorns rather than on the beaten road. It may be said a love for the good of my country should influence my wishes. Let those care to whom the trust is committed; but never beg for that trust when, in my own opinion, I have been of so little service, and have sacrificed both health and domestic happiness at the shrine of my country. Nothing that I could do, either by conversation or writing, has been wanting to let men see the danger which is before them. But seeing is not the sense that will give them the alarm; feeling only will have this effect, and it is hard to say how callous even this may be. Yet when the seeds of the funding system ripen into taxation of every kind and upon every article; when the general judiciary, like an enforcing machine, follows them up, seizing and carrying men from one corner of a State to another, and perhaps, in time, through different States, I should not be at all disappointed if a commotion, like a popular fever, should be excited, and, at least, attempt to throw off these political disorders. Ill, however, will the Government be, under which an old man can not eke out ten or a dozen years of an unimportant life in quiet; and may God grant peace in my day!
But as to the point in hand, let me now mark down some rules for my future conduct.
First, then, let me avoid anything that may seem to savor of singularity or innovation; call and speak to my acquaintances as formerly, but avoid with the utmost care the subject of senatorial election and everything connected with it. If any other person introduces it, he must either be a real or a pretended friend. Hear him, therefore, with complacence, and even with a thankful air; avoid every wish or opinion of my own, especially of the negative kind, for everything of the sort will hazard my sincerity.
Should an election come on while I am in town, stay in my place during the time of it; and if it should be adverse, a thing I can scarce doubt of, immediately send in my resignation, as the appointment of another person must be considered as equivocal proof of my having lost the confidence of the State. For this purpose let my letter of resignation be ready, all to filling the date; and revise it while I am cool, for it is not unlikely that with so many eyes upon me I ,nay undergo some perturbation at the time.
Lastly, have my mare in readiness, and let the first day of my liberty be employed in my journey homeward. A determination of this kind is certainly right, for I have tried and feel my own insignificance and total inability to give the smallest check to the torrent which is pouring down on us. A system is daily developing itself which must gradually undermine and finally destroy our so much boasted equality, liberty, and republicanism — high wages, ample compensations, great salaries to every person connected with the Government of the United States. The desired effect is already produced; the frugal and parsimonious appointments of the individual States are held in contempt. Men of pride, ambition, talents, all press forward to exhibit their abilities on the theatre of the General Government. This, I think, may be termed grade first; and to a miracle it has succeeded.
The second grade or stage is to create and multiply officers and appointments under the General Government by every possible means in the diplomacy, judiciary, and military. This is called giving the President a respectable patronage — a term, I confess, new to me in the present sense of it, which I take to mean neither more nor less than that the President should always have a number of lucrative places in his gift to reward those members of Congress who may promote his views or support his measures; more especially if by such conduct they should forfeit the esteem of their constituents. We talk of corruption in Great Britain. I pray we may not have occasion for complaints of a similar nature here. Respice finem as to the third.