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Washington did not know this, but he might have known it,
and his disregard of French complaints can hardly be ascribed to any
other cause than his delusion that Morris was deeply occupied with
the treaty negotiations confided to him. It must be remembered that
Washington believed such a treaty with England to be the alternative of
war.(2) On that apprehension the British party in America, and British
agents, played to the utmost, and under such influences Washington
sacrificed many old friendships,--with Jefferson, Madison, Monroe,
Edmund Randolph, Paine,--and also the confidence of his own State,
Virginia.

1 Washington's marginal notes on Monroe's "View, etc.,"
were first fully given in Ford's "Writings of Washington,"
vol. xiii., p. 452, seq.

2 Ibid., p. 453.

There is a traditional impression that Paine's angry letter to
Washington was caused by the President's failure to inter-pose for
his relief from prison. But Paine believed that the American Minister
(Morris) had reclaimed him in some feeble fashion, as an American
citizen, and he knew that the President had officially approved Monroe's
action in securing his release. His grievance was that Washington, whose
letters of friendship he cherished, who had extolled his services to
America, should have manifested no concern personally, made no use of
his commanding influence to rescue him from daily impending death, sent
to his prison no word of kindness or inquiry, and sent over their mutual
friend Monroe without any instructions concerning him; and finally, that
his private letter, asking explanation, remained unanswered. No doubt
this silence of Washington concerning the fate of Paine, whom he
acknowledged to be an American citizen, was mainly due to his fear
of offending England, which had proclaimed Paine. The "outlaw's"
imprisonment in Paris caused jubilations among the English gentry,
and went on simultaneously with Jay's negotiations in London, when any
expression by Washington of sympathy with Paine (certain of publication)
might have imperilled the Treaty, regarded by the President as vital.

So anxious was the President about this, that what he supposed had been
done for Paine by Morris, and what had really been done by Monroe,
was kept in such profound secrecy, that even his Secretary of State,
Pickering, knew nothing of it. This astounding fact I recently
discovered in the manuscripts of that Secretary.(1) Colonel Pickering,
while flattering enough to the President in public, despised his
intellect, and among his papers is a memorandum concluding as follows:

"But when the hazards of the Revolutionary War had ended, by the
establishment of our Independence, why was the knowledge of General
Washington's comparatively defective mental powers not freely divulged?
Why, even by the enemies of his civil administration were his abilities
very tenderly glanced at? --Because there were few, if any men, who
did not revere him for his distinguished virtues; his modesty--his
unblemished integrity, his pure and disinterested patriotism. These
virtues, of infinitely more value than exalted abilities without them,
secured to him the veneration and love of his fellow citizens at large.
Thus immensely popular, no man was willing to publish, under his hand,
even the simple truth. The only exception, that I recollect, was the
infamous Tom Paine; and this when in France, after he had escaped the
guillotine of Robespierre; and in resentment, because, after he had
participated in the French Revolution, President Washington seemed
not to have thought him so very important a character in the world,
as officially to interpose for his relief from the fangs of the French
ephemeral Rulers. In a word, no man, however well informed, was willing
to hazard his own popularity by exhibiting the real intellectual
character of the immensely popular Washington."

1 Massachusetts Historical Society, vol. 11., p. 171.

How can this ignorance of an astute man, Secretary of State under
Washington and Adams, be explained? Had Washington hidden the letters
showing on their face that he _had_ "officially interposed" for Paine by
two Ministers?

Madison, writing to Monroe, April 7, 1796, says that Pickering had
spoken to him "in harsh terms" of a letter written by Paine to the
President. This was a private letter of September 20, 1795, afterwards
printed in Paine's public Letter to Washington. The Secretary certainly
read that letter on its arrival, January 18, 1796, and yet Washington
does not appear to have told him of what had been officially done in
Paine's case! Such being the secrecy which Washington had carried from
the camp to the cabinet, and the morbid extent of it while the British
Treaty was in negotiation and discussion, one can hardly wonder at his
silence under Paine's private appeal and public reproach.

Much as Pickering hated Paine, he declares him the only man who ever
told the simple truth about Washington. In the lapse of time historical
research, while removing the sacred halo of Washington, has revealed
beneath it a stronger brain than was then known to any one. Paine
published what many whispered, while they were fawning on Washington for
office, or utilizing his power for partisan ends. Washington, during his
second administration, when his mental decline was remarked by
himself, by Jefferson, and others, was regarded by many of his eminent
contemporaries as fallen under the sway of small partisans. Not only
was the influence of Jefferson, Madison, Randolph, Monroe, Livingston,
alienated, but the counsels of Hamilton were neutralized by Wolcott and
Pickering, who apparently agreed about the President's "mental powers."
Had not Paine previously incurred the _odium theologicum_, his pamphlet
concerning Washington would have been more damaging; even as it was, the
verdict was by no means generally favorable to the President, especially
as the replies to Paine assumed that Washington had indeed failed to
try and rescue him from impending death.(1) A pamphlet written by Bache,
printed anonymously (1797), Remarks occasioned by the late conduct of
Mr. Washington, indicates the belief of those who raised Washington to
power, that both Randolph and Paine had been sacrificed to please Great
Britain.

The _Bien-informé_ (Paris, November 12, 1797) published a letter from
Philadelphia, which may find translation here as part of the history of
the pamphlet:

"The letter of Thomas Paine to General Washington is read here with
avidity. We gather from the English papers that the Cabinet of St James
has been unable to stop the circulation of that pamphlet in England,
since it is allowable to reprint there any English work already
published elsewhere, however disagreeable to Messrs. Pitt and Dundas.
We read in the letter to Washington that Robespierre had declared to
the Committee of Public Safety that it was desirable in the interests
of both France and America that Thomas Paine, who, for seven or eight
months had been kept a prisoner in the Luxembourg, should forthwith be
brought up for judgment before the revolutionary tribunal. The proof of
this fact is found in Robespierre's papers, and gives ground for strange
suspicions."

1 The principal ones were "A Letter to Thomas Paine. By an
American Citizen. New York, 1797," and "A Letter to the
infamous Tom Paine, in answer to his Letter to General
Washington. December 1796. By Peter Porcupine" (Cobbett).
Writing to David Stuart, January 8,1797, Washington,
speaking of himself in the third person, says: "Although
he is soon to become a private citizen, his opinions are to
be knocked down, and his character traduced as low as they
are capable of sinking it, even by resorting to absolute
falsehoods. As an evidence whereof, and of the plan they are
pursuing, I send you a letter of Mr. Paine to me, printed in
this city and disseminated with great industry. Enclosed you
will receive also a production of Peter Porcupine, alias
William Cobbett. Making allowances for the asperity of an
Englishman, for some of his strong and coarse expressions,
and a want of official information as to many facts, it is
not a bad thing." The "many facts" were, of course, the
action of Monroe, and the supposed action of Morris in
Paris, but not even to one so intimate as Stuart are these
disclosed.

"It was long believed that Paine had returned to America with his friend
James Monroe, and the lovers of freedom [there] congratulated themselves
on being able to embrace that illustrious champion of the Rights of Man.
Their hopes have been frustrated. We know positively that Thomas Paine
is still living in France. The partizans of the late presidency [in
America] also know it well, yet they have spread a rumor that after
actually arriving he found his (really popular) _principles no longer
the order of the day_, and thought best to re-embark.

"The English journals, while repeating this idle rumor, observed that it
was unfounded, and that Paine had not left France. Some French journals
have copied these London paragraphs, but without comments; so that at
the very moment when Thomas Paine's Letter on the 18th. Fructidor is
published, _La Clef du Cabinet_ says that this citizen is suffering
unpleasantness in America."

Paine had intended to return with Monroe, in the spring of 1797, but,
suspecting the Captain and a British cruiser in the distance, returned
from Havre to Paris. The packet was indeed searched by the cruiser
for Paine, and, had he been captured, England would have executed the
sentence pronounced by Robespierre to please Washington.



MEMORIAL ADDRESSED TO JAMES MONROE,

MINISTER FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO THE FRENCH REPUBLIC.

Prison of the Luxembourg, Sept. 10th, 1794.

I address this memorial to you, in consequence of a letter I received
from a friend, 18 Fructidor (September 4th,) in which he says, "Mr.
Monroe has told me, that he has no orders [meaning from the American
government] respecting you; but I am sure he will leave nothing
undone to liberate you; but, from what I can learn, from all the late
Americans, you are not considered either by the Government, or by
the individuals, as an American citizen.



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