Chapter 7: John Randolph's Schism
Nothing in Jefferson's life was stranger to modern ideas of politics than the secrecy which as President he succeeded in preserving. For two months the people of the United States saw their representatives go day after day into secret session, but heard not a whisper of what passed in conclave. Angry as Randolph was, and eager as the Federalists were to make mischief, they revealed not even to the senators or the foreign ministers what was passing in the House; and the public at large, under their democratic government, knew no more than Frenchmen of their destinies of war and peace. Such a state of things was contrary to the best traditions of the Republican party: it could not last, but it could end only in explosion.
When the debate on Smith's non-importation Resolutions began in the Senate February 12, the previous struggle which had taken place over the Spanish policy and the "Two-million Act" was still a secret; Randolph's schism was unknown beyond the walls of the Capitol; the President's scheme of buying West Florida from France after having, as he maintained, bought it once already, was kept, as he wished, untold. The world knew only that some mysterious