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While transmontane affairs held the attention of the diplomatists, party discussion was assuming that violent tone which has ever since been one of its chief characteristics in America. Exaggeration, prejudice, denunciation, and angry personalities became the order of the day, as each side assailed the other in the process of educating politically the great American democracy.

The Genet incident had its political significance, but many less conspicuous matters served also as points around which the struggle centered. Finally there burst on the country a storm of insurrection which threatened to baptize the new government in the blood of its own citizens. How closely this movement was connected with the political agitation which was then at its height is a matter of controversy. That it was born out of an opposition to one of the cardinal features of Hamilton's system of government is without dispute. It is not too much to say that it was vitally encouraged by the violent denunciation of the Federalists by the Republicans.

The third Congress convened in its first session in November 1793. A majority of the House were classed as Republicans, although their party allegiance was not as strong as it was later when the party was better organized. Against Hamilton, as the most eminent Federalist, they concentrated their opposition. The financial policy of the government, although it had wrought brilliant results with the public credit, had its disadvantages: it leaned to extravagance; it was favorable to the interests of the bank; it facilitated the operations of the speculators; and the indifference with which it contemplated the management of the debt lent color to the idea that early payment was not intended. The Indian war and foreign difficulties made necessary increased expenses for defense. A large part of the debt had been so funded that it did not begin to bear interest till 1800, in which year the interest charge would increase by one million one hundred thousand dollars. In the face of such difficulties, a policy of economy seemed to be best.

Out of these facts, the Republicans got all the capital possible. They harped on the unnecessary assumption of state debts; they spoke contemptuously of Hamilton's purpose to saddle the country with a permanent debt like that of England; they charged him with mismanagement of the money borrowed abroad to pay off the foreign debt; they spoke darkly of collusion with the speculators; they ascribed to favoritism the anxiety with which he sought to launch the bank in safety; and they ever played on the string of monarchy and consolidation. To all he gave a quiet heed but turned not aside.

To pay for its two million dollars of United States bank stock, the government borrowed a like sum from the bank, agreeing to repay it in ten annual installments. In December 1792, Hamilton recommended that all this debt be paid at once by issuing bonds. The advantage to the government was that the new loan could be made at about four and one-half percent, interest, whereas the present debt paid six percent; the disadvantage was that it fixed this debt on the public for an indefinite period, while as first arranged it would be paid in ten years. The Republicans attacked the proposition fiercely as but a veiled scheme to increase the national debt for the benefit of the stock speculators. One of them gave notice that if the bank must have the money he would move that it should be got by selling the government's stock. That was far out of Hamilton's calculations, and he was content to accept a compromise by which only enough money was borrowed to pay the installment of the debt then due.

This success encouraged the Republicans to a stronger attack. Giles of Virginia, a zealous and energetic, but clumsy, leader of his party, introduced into the house various resolutions calling for information about transactions in the treasury, the purpose of all of them being to prove that Hamilton had been guilty of irregularities. They were met in the fairest spirit by the secretary. Shutting himself up with his assistants, he prepared report after report which showed that he was master of the situation, and the clearness of which left him entirely justified. But Giles would not be satisfied. In the face of the reports before the House, he introduced resolutions of censure on Hamilton, and these the Republicans fought to a vote at the very close of the session, the result being all that the Federalists could desire. Giles's resolutions were defeated by majorities approaching two-thirds of the vote cast. His course had been nothing less than an attempt to drive Hamilton from the cabinet, and its utter failure left the secretary stronger than ever before. He was so confident of his position that on December 1, 1794, when he, at last, wanted to retire, he was able to send a challenge to his enemies to produce all that they might want to charge against him before his retirement so that he might refute it at once. In spite of some fulminations by Giles, assisted by Gallatin, no attack was made, and Hamilton was allowed to go out of office in peace, on January 31, 1795.

Of all his financial measures, the most unpopular with the people was the excise, which reminded them of the similar execrated system in England. Although the rate was very low, it was a prying tax, which had been resisted when set up a few years before by the state government of Pennsylvania; and how should they stand it in the untried federal government? This latent opposition was particularly strong in the South, where distilled spirits were generally produced and consumed. From the passing of the law in January 1791, there appeared a marked dissatisfaction in the western parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. The legislatures of North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland passed resolutions against the law, and that of Pennsylvania manifested a strong spirit of opposition to it. As early as 1791, Washington was informed that throughout this whole region, the people were ready for revolt. On his journey south in 1791 he was pleased to observe that the report was not true, but for all that, there was much discontent, and the Republican politicians did not fail to make use of it.

The whole region in question had been settled by a body of hardy farmers, the chief element of which was Scotch-Irish. These brought from Ireland the habit of making and using whiskey. Soon a still was established by every storekeeper and on every farm. Rum, which had been the common tipple of the country during the colonial period, was largely displaced by the new form of spirits. From fruit, rye, and corn they made a cheaper article than could be furnished from the New England distilleries. To the farmers this was a matter of much importance, for whiskey offered a concentrated form in which their products could be carried to market, and a sure source of money for their simple needs. To tax their stills seemed to them a blow at the only thing which obdurate nature had given them — a lot hard, indeed, in comparison with that of the people of the seaboard.

The farther one penetrated into the interior, the more these conditions were accentuated, especially in the part of Pennsylvania which lay beyond the mountains. Here in the valley of the Monongahela were four settled counties — Washington, Alleghany, Fayette, and Westmoreland. In 1794 they held some thousands of people. The chief center of the region was Pittsburg, where there was a weak garrison with supplies of military stores. By location and sentiment, these people were a part of the Ohio Valley settlements, and they were not entirely indifferent to that general feeling for separateness which was strong in Kentucky.

Among them, the excise law soon aroused opposition. It is interesting to notice that this took a form like the protests by which opposition was expressed a generation earlier to the Stamp Act and the tea duty. In the summer of 1791, a meeting was held at which resolutions were passed calling on all good people to refuse to observe the law and threatening punishment for those who should accept office under it. A year later another was held, this time at Pittsburg, in which appeared Gallatin and many other men who opposed violence. Nevertheless, the party of action, led by David Bradford and the less reckless Brackenridge, got control of the proceedings. They bore down the moderates under Gallatin and swept the timid ones along with them, and they adopted resolutions which went to the point of defiance of the national government. Hamilton, who welcomed an opportunity to try the power of the Union, thought that the meeting amounted to treason. At his suggestion, Washington issued a proclamation warning the malcontents that all lawful means would be taken to enforce the law. This strengthened the hands of the moderates in the West. In the next session of Congress, the excise law was somewhat modified.

Throughout the years 1792 and 1793, matters remained much disturbed in the western counties, but violence did not occur. Many stills were licensed according to the law, and many were operated which were not licensed. Meetings continued to be held and numerous contemptuous placards were posted, signed by "Tom the Tinker," a name assumed by the protesting writers. Bands of disguised persons, known as "Whiskey Boys," visited those who were inclined to observe the law, smashing their stills and inflicting bodily injuries on the owners. The discontent was increased by the fact that all infractions of the law were punishable in the federal courts, the nearest one of which sat in Philadelphia. So great a hardship was this, that, early in 1794, a bill was introduced into Congress to allow the state courts to have jurisdiction over the execution of the excise law in regions more than fifty miles from a federal court.

Before this law was passed, fifty warrants, returnable in Philadelphia, were issued against persons charged with breaking the law in the disaffected district. The attempt to serve these writs produced an uprising in the region around Pittsburg. When a band of the inhabitants came on July 16 to the house of an inspector named Neville, to force him to give up his commission, he fired upon them and they replied in a like manner. At the end of a few minutes, they retreated with six of their number wounded and one killed. Six hundred men now flew to arms, and Neville fled for his life. The mob burned his house and stables in rage and called a meeting to decide what should now be done. The violent ones, led by Bradford, noisily wanted to commit all the people to the support of those who had attacked Neville. Through his efforts a call was sent out for a general meeting of delegates from all the counties, to be held at Parkinson's Ferry on August 14, 1794. In the meantime, he did all that he could to create a spirit of mischief. Agitators took up the cry against the excise, the spirit of the West was invoked to protect the inhabitants, and all things possible were done to stimulate the revolt to such a point that retreat would be impossible. As a climax to such efforts, Bradford got some of his agents to rob the eastbound mail. Letters were found from the moderates calling on the East for help, and these were published as a means of arousing further the resentment of the populace.

Pleased with his success, Bradford next issued a flaming call for a meeting of the militia at Braddock's Field on August 1. His purpose was thought to be to overawe the garrison at Pittsburg and to gain possession of the supplies there. On the appointed day a large body assembled, two thousand of whom had arms in their hands. But the courage of the leaders failed them; they dared not attack the federal soldiers, and contented themselves with marching through the streets of panic-stricken Pittsburg as a demonstration of their strength. The inhabitants obligingly brought out quantities of liquor, one of them asserting afterward that he contributed on that day four hundred gallons of rare old whiskey to the cause of peace.

Against the reign of the mob it was plainly the duty of the governor of Pennsylvania to take action; but Mifflin, who held that office, was timid. He would not see the necessity of force, and he professed to fear that the militia would not serve against the malcontents. Washington, however, was not timid. On August 7, 1794, he issued a proclamation against the rioters, and called for fifteen thousand militia from the states of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, to be ready to march by September 1. Meanwhile, he appointed three commissioners to go to the disaffected region to endeavor to bring the people to submission before the time set for the departure of the troops. To these Mifflin joined commissioners of his own. The militia responded to the call with alacrity, and on September I an army of more than twelve thousand men was gathering, ready for service.

The commissioners of peace reached the region over the mountains just as all that country was thinking about the great meeting at Parkinson's Ferry on August 14. On that occasion two hundred and twenty-six delegates were present, and Gallatin with much reluctance consented to serve as secretary. Bradford attempted to create a committee of safety with powers to rule the West in this crisis; but Gallatin opposed the motion, seeing that it would deliver power into the hands of the radicals. After a hot debate, a motion was passed to appoint a committee of twelve to treat with the peace commissioners, another committee with sixty members to have the authority to call a future meeting if they thought it necessary. This was a defeat for Bradford, and the liberals took heart.

Between the commissioners and the committee of twelve, negotiations were commenced immediately after the adjournment of the Parkinson's Ferry meeting. At a conference held at Pittsburg, the committee showed a disposition to make peace, whereupon they were denounced by the radicals as having sold themselves for federal gold. A meeting of the sixty was called, at which peace was offered on the condition that the leaders of the movement should submit to the government. Bradford fought hard to defeat acceptance of these terms, but Gallatin carried the majority on his own side. This was promising, but the number who held out was still strong. September passed in fruitless negotiations, the insurgents sending a committee of their own across the mountains to meet Washington and to ask for better terms. He was inspecting the troops, but before an agreement could be had with the insurgents he was called back to Philadelphia to meet Congress at its approaching session.

Meantime the army was marching in two divisions to the Monongahela, one by way of Carlisle and Bedford and over the Alleghanies, the other by Cumberland along the Braddock Road. Henry Lee, governor of Virginia, was commander-in-chief, and Hamilton had received permission to accompany the expedition. Washington went as far as Bedford, where he reviewed the forces. On November 8, the two columns were united at Parkinson's Ferry, and before the soldiery of the Union, the last remnant of resistance at once disappeared. Detachments were sent to various sections to receive the submission of the people. Hamilton busied himself making arrests of the leaders, eighteen of whom were sent to Philadelphia and marched through the streets with the word "Insurgent" on their hats. The secretary would have been glad to deal out a more severe penalty, but more humane wills overruled him. Two thousand five hundred troops remained in the west during the winter to see that order was restored, and the rest of the army marched home as from a victorious campaign. In the following May a number of the insurgents were tried for treason in Philadelphia, and two of them, Mitchell and an ignorant German named Vigel, were convicted; but Washington pardoned both of them.

The outcome of the incident was of greater political than military significance. It was the first struggle of the nation against the internal forces which would have destroyed it. The unanimity of the response convinced the people that anarchy was further off than the excited political orators were wont to declare. With the insurrection suppressed, and with Wayne about to bring peace to the frontiers, American power gained considerable prestige with the two most lawless elements of our population.

Far away from our own continent, another incident added prestige to our flag. The freebooting dey of Algiers was, as usual, terrorizing the western Mediterranean, or forcing the nations to pay round sums for immunity from his attacks on their commerce. Since 1785 he had held thirteen American captives for whom he wanted an exorbitant ransom, and negotiations to secure their release except on his own terms were unavailing. The Portuguese, for a long time at war with the dey, kept up such a blockade at the Straits of Gibraltar that the Algerines could not get out; but in 1793 Portugal made a truce, through the instrumentality of Great Britain, and the straits were open once again, whereupon eight Algerine cruisers at once entered the Atlantic and began to seize American ships.

Now, England had been able to make herself respected by these people, and her ships were in no danger. Her action, therefore, had the appearance of turning the scavengers of the sea loose upon the shipping of her enemies, and the Americans were disposed to think that they were the special objects of this policy. From all sides arose a cry for vengeance. The Federalists, who had long believed in defense, were glad of the opportunity to move the construction of six frigates, and the measure was carried, on March 27, 1794. Three of them were begun at once, although their completion was much delayed by lack of funds. This was the beginning of the navy under the Constitution. Till the ships could be constructed, nothing better could be done than to purchase peace from Algiers, and to ransom the captives then held.

A further mark of national efficiency was the increased strength of the army. In 1789 it had consisted of a regiment of infantry and a battalion of artillery, in all 840 men, of whom only 672 were in actual service. In 1791, with the Indian troubles in mind, Congress voted for another regiment, and in 1792 three others. This entire force was then organized into a legion, composed of four subregions. Each of the latter had 1280 men distributed as follows: dragoons, 80; artillerymen, 60; four rifle companies, 380; and eight infantry companies, 760; total, 5120. On May 9, 1794, Congress added 800 artillerymen; and this nominal force of 6000 contained the strength of the army till the trouble with France brought about the augmentations of 1798. In reality, the ranks were far from full: June 5, 1794, the non-commissioned officers and privates were only 3578. Even this small force was denounced by the Republicans as a step toward military despotism.

From its political contentions, Congress turned aside in 1794 long enough to adopt an eleventh amendment to the Constitution. The occasion was this: Chisholm, a citizen of South Carolina, brought suit in the supreme court against the state of Georgia for the payment of a debt. The state refused to answer the summons to trial, on the ground that the court had no jurisdiction over a sovereign state; but the court held, in February 1793, that the Constitution gave a citizen the right to sue a state other than the one in which he lived. The decision involved such far-reaching consequences that both parties in Congress united in passing an amendment declaring the non-suability of a state by a citizen of another state. It was finally promulgated on January 8, 1798.

In 1794 the debates of the Senate were opened to the public, a step till then delayed by the Senate's idea of its superior dignity, and its sense of responsibility in regard to appointments and treaties. Washington expressed a common idea among senators when he said that he supposed that the Senate thought that there was too much speaking to the galleries in the other House. If we may believe half the gossip of Maclay, it was well to keep secret the attitude of many senators towards government by the people. For example, Butler of South Carolina spoke disdainfully of the small salary of a senator. It ought, he said, to be enough to enable a member to live in proper style, and a member ought to spend it all in living. As for himself, he would give the excess to the poor before he would take any of it back home. The secret sessions were undemocratic; and, as the sense of popular responsibility developed, they were doomed. The Senate discontinued them as to legislative sessions, on February 11, 1794.

On January 31, 1795, Hamilton retired from office. He had long wanted to re-enter his law office, and to build up the practice which his ability, his reputation with men of wealth, his knowledge of affairs, and his general popularity assured him. Moreover, his personal affairs needed his attention, and he was tiring of politics. Washington saw his departure with regret. Between the two men, there had been very cordial relations. Jefferson was not wrong when he said that his rival had influenced Washington's action, although he exaggerated the extent of his power. Even after Hamilton was out of the cabinet, his former chief wrote frequently to him to ask for advice on all points, from the manner in which he should receive Adet, the French minister, to the "re-dressing" of the Farewell Address.