A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
The traditional judgment
was formed in the absence of many materials necessary for a just
verdict. The editor feels under the necessity of introducing at this
point an historical episode; he cannot regard it as fair to the memory
of either Paine or Washington that these two chapters should be printed
without a full statement of the circumstances, the most important of
which, but recently discovered, were unknown to either of those men. In
the editor's "Life of Thomas Paine" (ii., pp. 77-180) newly discovered
facts and documents bearing on the subject are given, which may
be referred to by those who desire to investigate critically such
statements as may here appear insufficiently supported. Considerations
of space require that the history in that work should be only summarized
here, especially as important new details must be added.

Paine was imprisoned (December 28, 1793) through the hostility of
Gouverneur Morris, the American Minister in Paris. The fact that the
United States, after kindling revolution in France by its example, was
then represented in that country by a Minister of vehement royalist
opinions, and one who literally entered into the service of the King to
defeat the Republic, has been shown by that Minister's own biographers.
Some light is cast on the events that led to this strange situation by
a letter written to M. de Mont-morin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, by
a French Chargé d'Affaires, Louis Otto, dated Philadelphia, 10 March,
1792. Otto, a nobleman who married into the Livingston family, was an
astute diplomatist, and enjoyed the intimacy of the Secretary of
State, Jefferson, and of his friends. At the close of a long interview
Jefferson tells him that "The secresy with which the Senate covers its
deliberations serves to veil personal interest, which reigns therein in
all its strength." Otto explains this as referring to the speculative
operations of Senators, and to the commercial connections some of them
have with England, making them unfriendly to French interests.

"Among the latter the most remarkable is Mr. Robert Morris, of English
birth, formerly Superintendent of Finance, a man of greatest talent,
whose mercantile speculations are as unlimited as his ambition. He
directs the Senate as he once did the American finances in making it
keep step with his policy and his business.... About two years ago Mr.
Robert Morris sent to France Mr. Gouverneur Morris to negotiate a loan
in his name, and for different other personal matters.... During his
sojourn in France, Mr. Rob. Morris thought he could make him more useful
for his aims by inducing the President of the United States to entrust
him with a negotiation with England relative to the Commerce of the two
countries. M. Gouv. Morris acquitted himself in this as an adroit man,
and with his customary zeal, but despite his address (insinuation)
obtained only the vague hope of an advantageous commercial treaty on
condition of an _Alliance resembling that between France and the United
States_.... [Mr. Robert Morris] is himself English, and interested in
all the large speculations founded in this country for Great Britain....
His great services as Superintendent of Finance during the Revolution
have assured him the esteem and consideration of General Washington,
who, however, is far from adopting his views about France. The warmth
with which Mr. Rob. Morris opposed in the Senate the exemption of French
_armateurs_ from tonnage, demanded by His Majesty, undoubtedly had
for its object to induce the king, by this bad behavior, to break the
treaty, in order to facilitate hereafter the negotiations begun with
England to form an alliance. As for Mr. Gouv. Morris he is entirely
devoted to his correspondent, with whom he has been constantly connected
in business and opinion. His great talents are recognized, and his
extreme quickness in conceiving new schemes and gaining others to them.
He is perhaps the most eloquent and ingenious man of his country, but
his countrymen themselves distrust his talents. They admire but fear
him." (1)

1 Archives of the State Department, Paris, États Unis.,
vol. 35, fol. 301.

The Commission given to Gouverneur Morris by Washington, to which
Otto refers, was in his own handwriting, dated October 13, 1789, and
authorized him "in the capacity of private agent, and in the credit of
this letter, to converse with His Britannic Majesty's ministers on these
points, viz. whether there be any, and what objection to performing
those articles of the treaty which remained to be performed on his part;
and whether they incline to a treaty of commerce on any and what terms.
This communication ought regularly to be made to you by the Secretary
of State; but, that office not being at present filled, my desire of
avoiding delays induces me to make it under my own hand."(1)

The President could hardly have assumed the authority of secretly
appointing a virtual ambassador had there not been a tremendous object
in view: this, as he explains in an accompanying letter, was to
secure the evacuation by Great Britain of the frontier posts. This
all-absorbing purpose of Washington is the key to his administration.
Gouverneur Morris paved the way for Jay's treaty, and he was paid for
it with the French mission. The Senate would not have tolerated his
appointment to England, and only by a majority of four could the
President secure his confirmation as Minister to France (January 12,
1792). The President wrote Gouverneur Morris (January 28th) a friendly
lecture about the objections made to him, chiefly that he favored the
aristocracy and was unfriendly to the revolution, and expressed "the
fullest confidence" that, supposing the allegations founded, he would
"effect a change." But Gouverneur Morris remained the agent of Senator
Robert Morris, and still held Washington's mission to England, and he
knew only as "conspirators" the rulers who succeeded Louis XVI. Even
while utilizing them, he was an agent of Great Britain in its war
against the country to which he was officially commissioned.

1 Ford's "Writings of George Washington" vol. xi., p. 440.

Lafayette wrote to Washington ("Paris, March 15,1792") the following
appeal:

"Permit me, my dear General, to make an observation for yourself alone,
on the recent selection of an American ambassador. Personally I am a
friend of Gouverneur Morris, and have always been, in private, quite
content with him; but the aristocratic and really contra-revolutionary
principles which he has avowed render him little fit to represent the
only government resembling ours.... I cannot repress the desire that
American and French principles should be in the heart and on the lips of
the ambassador of the United States in France." (1)

In addition to this; two successive Ministers from France, after the
fall of the Monarchy, conveyed to the American Government the most
earnest remonstrances against the continuance of Gouverneur Morris in
their country, one of them reciting the particular offences of which
he was guilty. The President's disregard of all these protests and
entreaties, unexampled perhaps in history, had the effect of giving
Gouverneur Morris enormous power over the country against which he
was intriguing. He was recognized as the Irremovable. He represented
Washington's fixed and unalterable determination, and this at a moment
when the main purpose of the revolutionary leaders was to preserve the
alliance with America. Robespierre at that time ( 1793) had special
charge of diplomatic affairs, and it is shown by the French historian,
Frédéric Masson, that he was very anxious to recover for the republic
the initiative of the American alliance credited to the king; and
"although their Minister, Gouverneur Morris, was justly suspected,
and the American republic was at that time aiming only to utilize the
condition of its ally, the French republic cleared it at a cheap rate of
its debts contracted with the King."(2) Morris adroitly held this
doubt, whether the alliance of his government with Louis XVI. would
be continued to that King's executioners, over the head of the
revolutionists, as a suspended sword. Under that menace, and with
the authentication of being Washington's irremovable mouthpiece, this
Minister had only to speak and it was done.

1 "Mémoire», etc., du General Lafayette," Bruxelles, 1837,
tome ii., pp. 484,485.

2 "Le Département des Affaires Étrangères pendant la
Révolution," p. 395.

Meanwhile Gouverneur Morris was steadily working in France for the
aim which he held in common with Robert Morris, namely to transfer the
alliance from France to England. These two nations being at war, it was
impossible for France to fulfil all the terms of the alliance; it could
not permit English ships alone to seize American provisions on the seas,
and it was compelled to prevent American vessels from leaving French
ports with cargoes certain of capture by British cruisers. In this way
a large number of American Captains with their ships were detained in
France, to their distress, but to their Minister's satisfaction. He did
not fail to note and magnify all "infractions" of the treaty, with the
hope that they might be the means of annulling it in favor of England,
and he did nothing to mitigate sufferings which were counts in his
indictment of the Treaty.

It was at this point that Paine came in the American Minister's way. He
had been on good terms with Gouverneur Morris, who in 1790 (May 29th)
wrote from London to the President:

"On the 17th Mr. Paine called to tell me that he had conversed on the
same subject [impressment of American seamen] with Mr. Burke, who had
asked him if there was any minister, consul, or other agent of the
United States who could properly make application to the Government: to
which he had replied in the negative; but said that I was here, who had
been a member of Congress, and was therefore the fittest person to step
forward. In consequence of what passed thereupon between them he [Paine]
urged me to take the matter up, which I promised to do.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.