JOURNAL OF WILLIAM MACLAY

FIRST SESSION OF THE FIRST CONGRESS

CHAPTER I.

ON TITLES AND CEREMONIES.

New York, 24th April, 1789. — I understood that it was agreed among the Senators yesterday that they would meet at the Hall this morning and go in a body to pay their respects to General Washington. I went about ten o'clock to the Hall, accordingly; there was, however, no person there. After staying some time, Elsworth came in. I suspected how it was. I repeated the conversation of last night, and asked him whether he had been to wait on the General. Yes, he had been, and a number more with him; some went last night and some this morning. What a perfidious custom it is! I, however, whipped down-stairs and joined the Speaker and a number more of the Pennsylvanians who were collecting for that purpose. Went, paid my respects, etc. Mind this, not to resent it, but to keep myself more out of his power. Mr. Izard had yesterday been very anxious to get a report adopted respecting the communications between the Houses. It was so, but now we hear the House laughed at it. Mr. Izard moved to have the adoption taken from the minutes. No, this could not be done.

But now a curious scene opened. Mr. Lee, being of the Title Committee of yesterday, produced a copy of the resolution for appointing that committee, and moved that the House should pass a vote for transmitting it down to the Lower House. This was truly ridiculous; but, mind, this base business had been gone into solely yesterday on the motion of our Vice-President.

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This was barefaced indeed. But now Lee wanted to bring it on again when the President would not appear in it. I likewise suspect Lee's integrity in this business. He knows the giving of titles would hurt us. I showed the absurdity of his motion plain enough, but it seems to me that, by getting a division of the resolution, I could perhaps throw out the part about titles altogether. Mr. Carrol, of Maryland, showed he was against titles. I wrought it so far that I got a question whether we should throw out the part about titles altogether. We lost the question on the throwing out that part. However, I could plainly see that we had gained ground with the House.

Now a most curious question arose. The Vice-President knew not how to direct the letter to the Speaker. He called on the House to know how it should be directed. The House showed a manifest disinclination to interfere. The Vice-President urged, and ceased not until a question was pointedly put whether the Speaker should be styled honorable. It passed in the negative, and from this omen I think our Vice-President may go and dream about titles, for none will he get.

April 25th, Saturday. — Attended the House. Ceremonies, endless ceremonies, the whole business of the day. I did not embark warmly this day. Otis, our Secretary, makes a most miserable hand at it. The grossest mistakes made on our minutes, and it cost us an hour or two to rectify them. I was up as often I believe, as was necessary, and certainly threw so much light on two subjects that the debate ended on each.

The Vice-President, as usual, made us two or three speeches from the Chair. I will endeavor to recollect one of them. It was on the reading of a report which mentioned that the President should be received in the Senate chamber and proceed thence to the House of Representatives to be sworn: "Gentlemen, I do not know whether the framers of the Constitution had in view the two kings of Sparta or the two consuls of Rome* when they formed it; one to have all the power while {3} he held it, and the other to be nothing. Nor do I know whether the architect that formed our room and the wide chair in it (to hold two, I suppose) had the Constitution before him. Gentlemen, I feel great difficulty how to act. I am possessed of two separate powers; the one in esse and the other in posse. I am Vice-President. In this I am nothing, but I may be everything. But I am president also of the Senate. When the President comes into the Senate, what shall I be? I can not be [president] then. No, gentlemen, I can not, I can not. I wish gentlemen to think what I shall be."

[* "Are we," Adams observed in the Senate, "the two kings of Sparta, the two consuls of Rome, or the two suffetes of Carthage?" — J. C. Hamilton's History of the United States, vol. iii, p. 560.]

Here, as if oppressed with a sense of his distressed situation, he threw himself back in his chair. A solemn silence ensued. God forgive me, for it was involuntary, but the profane muscles of my face were in tune for laughter in spite of my indisposition. Elsworth thumbed over tire sheet Constitution and turned it for some time. At length he rose and addressed the Chair with the utmost gravity: "Mr. President, I have looked over the Constitution (pause), and I find, sir, it is evident and clear, sir, that wherever the Senate are to be, there, sir, you must be at the head of them. But further, sir (here he looked aghast, as if some tremendous gulf had yawned before him), I shall not pretend to say."

Thursday next is appointed for swearing in the President. I am worse of my rheumatism, but perhaps it is owing to the change of the weather, for the wind is at the northeast and cold. Gave Mr. Vandalsen an half Johannes;* he is to sell it and give me credit for the amount of his bill, 41s. 3d.

[* A Portuguese gold coin, equal to about eight dollars.]

26th April, Sunday. — Went out half after nine o'clock. Visited Governor St. Clair, General Butler, Delany, McPherson, at Elsworth's. Called on Mr. Clynier and Mr. Fitzsimons. Mr. Clymer in the exceptionables, or peevish and fretting at everything. I know not how it is, but I can not get into these men. There is a kind of guarded distance on their parts that seems to preclude sociability. I believe I had best be guarded too. The very end of this visit was to try to concert some measures with them for the removal of Congress. But they kept me off. I mentioned a favorable {4} disposition in some of the Maryland gentlemen to be in unison with the Pennsylvanian delegation. They seemed not to credit me. Mr. O'Brien and Mr. Hartly came in, and I took my leave. Came home, and, as the day was blustering and cold, stayed all day in my room. Wrote some letters. Mr. Wynkoop dined out, so I saw nobody.

27th April, 1789, Monday. — Tried my knee and walked a good deal. Attended the Hall. We had prayers this day by the chaplain, Dr. Provost. A new arrangement was reported from the Joint Committee of Ceremonies. This is an endless business. Lee offered a motion to the Chair that after the President was sworn (which now is to be in the gallery opposite the Senate chamber), the Congress should accompany him to Saint Paul's Church and attend divine service. This had been agitated in Joint Committee. But Lee said expressly that they would not agree to it. I opposed it as an improper business after it had been in the hands of the Joint Committee and rejected, as I thought this a certain method of creating a dissension between the Houses. Izard got up in great wrath and stuttered that the fact was not so. He, however, would say nothing more. I made an effort to rise. The Vice-President hurried the question, and it was put and carried by the churchman. Mr. Carrol, though he had been the first to speak against it, yet was silent on this vote. This proves him not file man of firmness which I once thought him.

I went after this to hear the debate in the House of Representatives. The duty of six cents had been reported by the Committee on Molasses. The partiality of file New England members to this article was now manifest. All from their quarter was a universal cry against it. Three o'clock came, and an adjournment was called before file matter was settled.

I took a long walk after dinner with the Speaker and General Muhlenberg, and my knees stood it very well. Hope I shall be perfectly well in a few days. God grant it!

28th April. — This day I ought to note with some extraordinary mark. I had dressed and was about to set out, when General Washington, the greatest man in the world, paid me a visit. I met him at the foot of file stairs. Mr. Wynkoop just came in. We asked him to take a seat. He excused himself {5} on account of the number of his visits. We accompanied him to the door. He made us complaisant bows — one before he mounted and the other as he went away on horseback.

Attended at the Hall. Just nothing at all done. I, however, paid my formal visit to the Vice-President this morning, being nearly recovered of my lameness. Quitted the Hall about twelve. Called on Mr. Langdon, who has been sick some time. It began to rain, and I came home.

I may as well minute a remark here as anywhere else, and, indeed, I wish it were otherwise, not for what we have, but for what others want; but we have really more republican plainness and sincere openness of behavior in Pennsylvania than in any other place I have ever been. I was impressed with a different opinion until I have had full opportunity of observing the gentlemen of New England, and sorry indeed am I to say it, but no people in the Union dwell more on trivial distinctions and matters of mere form. They really seem to show a readiness to stand on punctilio and ceremony. A little learning is a dangerous thing ('tis said). May not the same be said of breeding? It is certainly true that people little used with company are more apt to take offense, and are less easy, than men much versant in public life. They are an unmixed people in New England, and used only to see neighbors like themselves; and when once an error of behavior has crept in among them, there is small chance of its being cured; for, should they go abroad, being early used to a ceremonious and reserved behavior, and believing 'that good manners consists entirely in punctilios, they only add a few more stiffened airs to their deportment, excluding good humor, affability of conversation, and accommodation of temper and sentiment as qualities too vulgar for a gentleman.

Mr. Strong gave us this morning a story which, with many others of a similar nature (which I have heard), places this in a clear point of light. By the Constitution of Massachusetts the Senate have the right of communicating bills to their Lower House. Some singular business made them [the Lower House] shut their doors. At this time called Samuel Adams of the Senate to communicate a bill. The door-keeper told him his orders. Back returned the enraged Senator; the {6} whole Senate took flame and blazed forth in furious memorial against the Lower House for breach of privilege. A violent contest ensued, and the whole State was convulsed with litigation.

29th April. — Attended the Hall this day. A bill was read the second time respecting the administering the oath for the support of the new Government. A diversity of opinion arose whether the law should be extended so as to oblige the officers of the State governments to take the oaths. The power of Congress to do this was asserted by some and derided by others in pointed terms. I did not enter into the merits of either side, but before the question was put gave my opinion that the first step toward doing good was to be sure of doing no harm. Gentlemen had been very pointed for and against this power; if we divided here, what must we expect the people out of doors to be? That in the exercise of the powers given us by Congress we should deal in no uncertainties; that while we had the Constitution plainly before us all was safe and certain, but if we took on us to deal in doubtful matters we trod on hollow ground, and might be charged with an assumption of powers not delegated. I therefore on this ground was against the commitment, and with it closed the business of the day. The bill, however, was committed.

I have observed ever since we began to do business that a Jehu-like spirit has prevailed with a number of gentlemen, and with none more than with the member from the Ancient Dominion, who is said to be a notorious anti-Federalist (a most expensive and enormous machine of a Federal Judiciary, pompous titles, strong efforts after religious distinctions, coercive laws for taking the oaths, etc.). I have uniformly opposed, as far as I was able, everything of this kind, and I believe have sacrificed every chance of being popular and every grain of influence in file Senate by so doing. But be it so.' I have the testimony of my own conscience that I am right. High-handed measures are at no time justifiable, but now they are highly impolitic. Never will I consent to straining the Constitution, nor never will I consent to the exercise of a doubtful power. We come here the servants, not the lords, of our constituents. The new Government, instead of being a powerful machine {7} whose authority would support any measure, needs helps and props on all sides, and must be supported by the ablest names and the most shining characters which we can select. The President's amiable deportment, however, smooths and sweetens everything. Charles Thompson has, however, been ill used by the Committee of Arrangements of the ceremonial. This is wrong. His name has been left out of the arrangements for to-morrow.

30th April, Thursday. — This is a great, important day. Goddess of etiquette, assist me while I describe it. The Senate stood adjourned to half after eleven o'clock. About ten dressed in my best clothes; went for Mr. Morris' lodgings, but met his son, who told me that his father would not be in town until Saturday. Turned into the Hall. The crowd already great. The Senate met. The Vice-President rose in the most solemn manner. This son of Adam seemed impressed with deeper gravity, yet what shall I think of him? He often, in the midst of his most important airs — I believe when tie is at loss for expressions (and this he often is, wrapped up, I suppose, in the contemplation of his own importance) — suffers an unmeaning kind of vacant laugh to escape him. This was the case to-day, and really to me bore the air of ridiculing the farce he was acting. "Gentlemen, I wish for the direction of the Senate. The President will, I suppose, address the Congress. How shall I behave? How shall we receive it? Shall it be standing or sitting?"

Here followed a considerable deal of talk from him which I could make nothing of. Mr. Lee began with the House of Commons (as is usual with him), then the House of Lords, then the King, and then back again. The result of his information was, that the Lords sat and the Commons stood on the delivery of the King's speech. Mr. Izard got up and told how often he had been in the Houses of Parliament. He said a great deal of what he had seen there. [He] made, however, this sagacious discovery, that the Commons stood because they had no. seats to sit on, being arrived at the bar of the House of Lords. It was discovered after some time that the King sat, too, and had his robes and crown on.

Mr. Adams got up again and said he had been very often {8} indeed at the Parliament on those occasions, but there always was such a crowd, and ladies along, that for his part he could not say how it was. Mr. Carrol got up to declare that he thought it of no consequence how it was in Great Britain; they were no rule to us, etc. But all at once the Secretary, who had been out, whispered to the Chair that the Clerk from the Representatives was at the door with a communication. Gentlemen of the Senate, how shall he be received? A silly kind of resolution of the committee on that business had been laid on the table some days ago. The amount of it was that each House should communicate to the other what and how they chose; it concluded, however, something in this way: That everything should be done with all the propriety that was proper. The question was, Shall this be adopted, that we may know how to receive the Clerk? It was objected [that] this will throw no light on the subject; it will leave you where you are. Mr. Lee brought the House of Commons before us again. He reprobated the rule; declared that the Clerk should not come within the bar of file House; that the proper mode was for the Sergeant-at-Arms, with the mace on his shoulder, to meet the Clerk at the door and receive his communication; we are not, however, provided for this ceremonious way of doing business, having neither mace nor sergeant nor Masters in Chancery, who carry down bills from the English Lords.

Mr. Izard got up and labored unintelligibly to show the great distinction between a communication and a delivery of a thing, but he was not minded. Mr. Elsworth showed plainly enough that if the Clerk was not permitted to deliver the communication, the Speaker might as well send it inclosed. Repeated accounts came [that] the Speaker and Representatives were at the door. Confusion ensued; the members left their seats. Mr. Read rose and called the attention of the Senate to the neglect that had been shown Mr. Thompson, late Secretary. Mr. Lee rose to answer him, but I could not hear one word he said. The Speaker was introduced, followed by the Representatives. Here we sat an hour and ten minutes before the President arrived — this delay was owing to Lee, Izard, and Dalton, who had stayed with us while the Speaker came in, instead of going to attend the President. The President advanced {9} between the Senate and Representatives, bowing to each. He was placed in the chair by the Vice-President; the Senate with their president on the right, the Speaker and the Representatives on his left. The Vice-President rose and addressed a short sentence to him. The import of it was that he should now take the oath of office as President. He seemed to have forgot half what he was to say, for he made a dead pause and stood for some time, to appearance, in a vacant mood. He finished with a formal bow, and the President was conducted out of the middle window into the gallery, and the oath was administered by the Chancellor. Notice that the business done was communicated to the crowd by proclamation, etc., who gave three cheers, and repeated it on the President's bowing to them.

As the company returned into the Senate chamber, the President took the chair and the Senators and Representatives their seats. He rose, and all arose also and addressed them (see the address). This great man was agitated and embarrassed more than ever he was by the leveled cannon or pointed musket. He trembled, and several times could scarce make out to read, though it must be supposed he had often read it before. He put part of the fingers of his left hand into the side of what I think the tailors call the fall of the breeches [corresponding to the modern side-pocket], changing the paper into his left [right] hand. After some time he then did the same with some of the fingers of his right hand. When he came to the words all the world, he made a flourish with his right hand, which left rather an ungainly impression. I sincerely, for my part, wished all set ceremony in the hands of the dancing-masters, and that this first of men had read off his address in the plainest manner, without ever taking his eyes from the paper, for I felt hurt that he was not first in everything. He was dressed in deep brown, with metal buttons, with an eagle on them, white stockings, a bag, and sword.

From the hall there was a grand procession to Saint Paul's Church, where prayers were said by the Bishop. The procession was well conducted and without accident, as far as I have heard. The militia were all under arms, lined the street near the church, made a good figure, and behaved well.

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The Senate returned to their chamber after service, formed, and took up the address. Our Vice-President called it his most gracious speech. I can not approve of this. A committee was appointed on it — Johnson, Carrol, Patterson. Adjourned. In the evening there were grand fireworks. The Spanish Ambassador's house was adorned with transparent paintings; the French Minister's house was illuminated, and had some transparent pieces; the Hall was grandly illuminated, and after all this the people went to bed.

May 1st. — Attended at the Hall at eleven. The prayers were over and the minutes reading. When we came to the minute of the speech it stood, His most gracious speech. I looked all around the Senate. Every countenance seemed to wear a blank. The Secretary was going on: I must speak or nobody would. "Mr. President, we have lately had a hard struggle for our liberty against kingly authority. The minds of men are still heated: everything related to that species of government is odious to the people. The words prefixed to the President's speech are the same that are usually placed before the speech of his Britannic Majesty. I know they will give offense. I consider them as improper. I therefore move that they be struck out, and that it stand simply address or speech, as may be judged most suitable."

Mr. Adams rose in his chair and expressed the greatest surprise that anything should be objected to on account of its being taken from the practice of that Government under which we had lived so long and happily formerly; that he was for a dignified and respectable government, and as far as he knew the sentiments of people they thought as he did; that for his part he was one of the first in the late contest [the Revolution], and, if he could have thought of this, he never would have drawn his sword.

Painful as it was, I had to contend with the Chair. I admitted that the people of the colonies (now States) had enjoyed formerly great happiness under that species of government, but the abuses of that Government under which they had smarted had taught them what they had to fear from that kind of government; that there had been a revolution in the sentiments of people respecting government equally great as that {11} which had happened in the Government itself; that even the modes of it were now abhorred; that the enemies of the Constitution had objected to it the facility there would be of transition from it to kingly government and all the trappings and splendor of royalty; that if such a thing as this appeared on our minutes, they would not fail to represent it as the first step of the ladder in the ascent to royalty. The Vice-President rose a second time, and declared that he had mentioned it to the Secretary; that he could not possibly conceive that any person could take offense at it. I had to get up again and declare that, although I knew of it being mentioned from the Chair, yet my opposition did not proceed from any motive of contempt; that, although it was a painful task, it was solely a sense of duty that raised me.

The Vice-President stood during this time; said he had been long abroad, and did not know how the temper of people might be now. Up now rose Mr. Read, and declared for the paragraph. He saw no reason to object to it because the British speeches were styled most gracious. If we chose to object to words because they had been used in the same sense in Britain, we should soon be at a loss to do business. I had to reply. "It is time enough to submit to necessity when it exists. At present we are at no loss for words. The words speech or address without any addition will suit us well enough." The first time I was up Mr. Lee followed me with a word or two by way of seconding me; but when the Vice-President, on being last up, declared that he was the person from whom the words were taken, Mr. Lee got up and informed the Chair that he did not know that circumstance, as he had been absent when it happened. The question was put and carried for erasing the words without a division.

After the House adjourned the Vice-President took me to one side, declared how much he was for an efficient Government, how much he respected General Washington, and much of that kind. I told him I would yield to no person in respect to General Washington; that our common friends would perhaps one day inform him that I was not wanting in respect to himself [Adams]; that my wishes for an efficient Government {12} were as high as any man's, and begged him to believe that I did myself great violence when I opposed him in the chair, and nothing but a sense of duty could force me to it. He got on the subject of checks to government and the balances of power. His tale was long. He seemed to expect some answer. I caught at the last word, and said undoubtedly without a balance there could be no equilibrium, and so left him hanging in geometry.

The unequivocal declaration that he would never have drawn his sword, etc., has drawn my mind to the following remarks: That the motives of the actors in the late Revolution were various can not be doubted. The abolishing of royalty, the extinguishment of patronage and dependencies attached to that form of government, were the exalted motives of many revolutionists, and these were the improvements meant by them to be made of the war which was forced on us by British aggression — in fine, the amelioration of government and bettering file condition of mankind. These ends and none other were publicly avowed, and all our constitutions and public acts were formed in this spirit. Yet there were not wanting a party whose motives were different. They wished for the loaves and fishes of government, and cared for nothing else but a translation of the diadem and scepter from London to Boston, New York, or Philadelphia; or, in other words, the creation of a new monarchy in America, and to form niches for themselves in the temple of royalty.

This spirit manifested itself strongly among the officers at the close of the war, and I have been afraid the army would not have been disbanded if the common soldiers could have been kept together. This spirit they developed in the Order of Cincinnati, where I trust it will spend itself in a harmless flame and soon become extinguished. That Mr. Adams should, however, so unequivocally avow this motive, at a time when a republican form of government is secured to every State in the Union, appears to me a mark of extreme folly.*

[* "John Adams was included by Jefferson among the believers in monarchy." — Randall's Life of Jefferson, vol. i, p. 586.]

Mem., 1790. — It is worthy of remark that about this time a spirit of reformation broke out in France which finally abolished {13} all titles and every trace of the feudal system. Strange, indeed, that in that very country [America], where the flame of freedom had been kindled, an attempt should be made to introduce these absurdities and humiliating distinctions which the hand of reason, aided by our example, was prostrating in the heart of Europe. I, however, will endeavor (as I have hitherto done) to use the resentment of the Representatives to defeat Mr. Adams and others on the subject of titles. The pompous and lordly distinctions which the Senate have manifested a disposition to establish between the two Houses have nettled the Representatives, and this business of titles may be considered as part of the same tune. While we are debating on titles I will, through the Speaker, Mr. Muhlenberg, and other friends, get the idea suggested of answering the President's address without any title, in contempt of our deliberations, which still continue on that subject. This once effected, will confound them [the Senators] completely, and establish a precedent they will not dare to violate.

Let me not remember it to his disadvantage, but on Thursday, soon after I came to the Hall, the Vice-President stepped up to me; said he had called at my lodgings, but found I was abroad. I thanked him for the honor he did me, and expressed my sorrow, in the usual way, for being abroad. I was, however, a little surprised, considering the hurry of the day, and more especially as I had but just left home. At night I asked Vandalsen whether any cards had been left for me. "No." "Did anybody call?" "Nobody." "Are you sure the Vice-President did not?" "I am very sure. I know Mr. Adams, the Vice-President, as well as I know any man. I have been at home the whole day; he did not call." From the drift of dust and feathers one finds how the wind blows. I did not minute this on Thursday, thinking that perhaps some mistake had happened which would explain itself. Perhaps it may still do so.

The President's speech is now in the hands of every one,and is received with merited applause. A thought as to the composition of it. But first I will lay down my own rules for I judging in cases of this kind. When every word conveys an idea and sentiment follows expression, the composition is good; {14} but when the words and expressions are so happily arranged that every corresponding idea and sentiment brings a kindred group in its train, the composition rises to excellent, grand, sublime. Now for the sinking scale. When ideas follow slowly, with difficulty, or not at all, the composition may be termed heavy, dull, stupid. I will read it again, but I declare I am inclined to place it under the heavy head.

May 2d. — Attended Senate. This a day of no business whatever. Langdon came and shook hands very heartily with me. Some of the other New England men [were] shy. Patterson only was at the Senate chamber before me. He passed censure on the conduct of the Vice-President, said he made himself too busy. He hinted as if some of the Senate would have taken notice of the gracious affair if I had not. I told him I was no courtier and had no occasion to trim, but said it was a most disagreeable thing to contend with the Chair, and I had alone held that disagreeable post more than once. After Senate adjourned, I saw the Vice-President standing disengaged. I stepped up to him, asked for his health, and fell into common-place chat. He is not well furnished with small talk more than myself, and has a very silly kind of laugh. I have often looked with the utmost attention at him to see if his aspect, air, etc., could inspire me with an opinion of his being a man of genius; but it was like repeating "Tristam, Tristam." No; the thing seems impossible. It is a silly opinion of mine, but I can not get rid of it, that every man, like a labeled bottle, has his contents marked on his visage.

May 3d, Sunday. — I did not feel very well this day. Determined to try the warm bath. Went and bespoke it to be ready at eleven. Went; continued in the water near half an hour. Had a most profuse sweat, but found a little of a headache. I wet my head as well as the rest of me. I can recollect that bathing or swimming used to give me the headache: will see how it will affect me. This day the first that seems genial and warm. It is now four o'clock, and I will take a walk.

In my walk I fell in with Mr. Sturges, Mr. Wyngate, and Mr. Goodhue. We took a circuit on the island and came into town. On the way we talked of the permanent residence. {15} They all allowed that New York was not the place. One of them said it ought to be in Pennsylvania. I said little, but remarked that, although we could be better accommodated in Philadelphia, I thought we should think of the permanent residence where houses should be built for the members from each State, when they would not be degraded to the humiliating necessity of begging for lodgings from house to house. I, however, remarked coolly that Virginia offered a quiescence in this plan, expecting the Pennsylvanians would be fretted into an acceptance of their measure for the Potomac; that the Potomac was convenient for a great part of Pennsylvania; that, by our joining votes to those of Virginia and Maryland and the more southerly States, we could go to the Potomac any time. One of them remarked that in Senate the numerous votes of Virginia would not avail. I did not get time to answer, for another replied that we had numbers on our side in the Senate also. They asked me to go to their lodgings to drink tea. I did so. There we found Mr. Thatcher and Mr. Grout. I sat a good while. Mr. Thatcher talked most, but a good deal wildly. There was a good deal said about the different new countries. I recommended the Genesee and the heads of the Susquehanna, I really think deservedly. I, however, had no objections to drawing their attention to the Susquehanna.

4th May, Monday. — Went pretty early to the post-office to deliver letters. As I came back, met General St. Clair. He seemed desirous of speaking with me; said he had been at my lodgings, and asked me what I thought of the President's new arrangements. It was the first I had heard of them. The President is neither to entertain nor receive invitations. He is to have levee days on Tuesdays and Fridays, when only he is to be seen. I told the General that General Washington stood on as difficult ground as he ever had done in his life: that to suffer himself to be run down, on the one hand, by a crowd of visitants so as to engross his time, would never do, as it would render the doing of business impracticable; but, on the other hand, for him to be seen only in public on stated times, like an Eastern Lama, would be equally offensive. If he was not to be seen but in public, where nothing confidential {16} could pass between him and any individual, the business would, to all appearance, be done without him, and he could not escape the charge of favoritism. All court would be paid to the supposed favorite; weakness and insignificance would be considered as characteristic of the President, and he would not escape contempt; that it was not thus the General gained the universal plaudits of his admiring fellow-citizens. I reiterated these ideas in every shape and in every different light I could place them for near half an hour that we walked in front of St. Paul's Church. The General said he wished to collect men's sentiments, and the design was to communicate them to the General [Washington]. I told him my late conduct in the Senate had been such as would render any opinion of mine very ungracious at court, and perhaps he had best never make any mention of my name. Much more was said, but not worth committing to paper.

Attended Senate. Soon after the bill prescribing the oath, etc., was taken up, and the amendments. The first amendment was on the enacting clause. It stood, Be it enacted by the Congress of the United States; the amendment, by the Senate and Representatives. It was openly avowed by Mr. Izard that the dignity and pre-eminence of the Senate was the object aimed at by the amendment; but the words of the Constitution are, "All legislative power herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States." Again, section 8, the "Congress shall have power," etc. The amount of all I said resolved itself into this: The legislative authority), the power (of making laws in certain cases) is given to Congress. Let Congress execute this trust under the same name. In other words, it is under the Firm of Congress that we have received our authority and power. Let us execute it under the same firm. Elsworth, who is a vastly better speaker than I am, was in sentiment with me this time. He placed the subject in various lights, and said enough, I thought, to convince any one who was not determined to be otherwise. But the fact with us is that the point sought after is to find out what will be most agreeable, or, in other words, where will the majority be? for never was a text more practiced on than that "in a multitude of counselors" (say Senators) "there is safety." Indeed, {17} it seems the governing principle. Mr. Izard gave us a kind of dissenting speech from both original and amendment. He wanted the President's name in it. Our Vice-President rose in the chair to deliver sentiments to the same purpose, and upon this principle he was rather against the amendment because it did not mention the President. The amendment carried.

The next amendment was a clause obliging the officers of the State Legislature to take the oath within a month after the 1st of August. Mr. Elsworth argued on the inaccuracies of the language of the amendment; that it was doubtful as to the intent of it every way. I thought he nearly exhausted the subject. Before the vote was put I chose to say something. It amounted to this: that the subject was a doubtful one every way, that the power of Congress at any time, or the propriety of exercising it at this time, is admitted. The words of the amendment were also doubtful and doubted. I would therefore deal in no doubtful matters. Izard rose in a flame, declared he knew not what gentlemen meant by talking of doubts. He never heard of any. He was very angry. Mr. Langdon followed him. Read the Constitution that all officers, both of the United States and several States, should be bound by oath, etc.

I had to get up in my own defense. I observed the gentleman mistook the point. The question was not whether the officers should take the oath, but was it our business to interfere in it? It was equally clear that Senators, Representatives, and electors were to be chosen by the States, but who ever thought of a law to oblige them to do these things? The adopting States, by the terms of their adoption, had pledged themselves to conform to the Constitution, which contained these things among its fundamental rules; that among the powers delegated to Congress this was not mentioned, nor was it necessary, being already provided for in the Constitution; that as to doubts, individuals had doubted and States had doubted. Massachusetts, it appeared, considered the power of making a law to be with Congress. Connecticut thought so differently that they had passed a State law for the purpose; that, for my part, I greatly doubted at least the propriety of meddling with it unless the States should be guilty of neglect. {18} But that I was not so uncharitable as to damn him that doubted not. Up rose Lee. He was for the amendment, but had more doubts than anybody. The rage of speaking caught hold of half the Senate at least. Some sensible things were said, but a great many foolish ones. Elsworth rose a second time. He took nearly the track I had been on, but he explained I everything with a clearness and perspicuity which I was quite incapable of. I was highly pleased with him. How readily do the sentimental strings sound unison when both are touched by the same agreeable motive! But enough, the amendment was carried against us.

I learned this day that the title selected from all the potentates of the earth for our President was to have been taken from Poland, viz., Elective Majesty. What a royal escape! Dined this day with the French Minister, the first place I have been at since my illness. But I have minuted enough for this day: so stop.

May 5th. — The bill of yesterday [prescribing the oath] had a third reading, but now how is it to be sent to the other House?. A motion was made and seconded that it go by the Secretary. From half after eleven to half after one was this important question agitated. The other House had affronted the Senate by sending up the bill in a letter, and now we would not send it down by a member. The dignity of the House was much insisted on. We were plagued again with the House of Lords and Commons, and "parliamentary" was the supplementary word to every sentence. I doubted much I whether I should rise or not; however, when everybody else had something to say, I scorned to be silent. I remarked that I rose with reluctance on a subject when I had not been able to draw any information from experience, as the State I had the honor of representing had but one House; yet from what I could learn the States which had two Houses in the Union carried on their communications by members; that this I considered as the most cordial and friendly mode of intercourse, and that I would much rather take example from our own States than from Great Britain; that this intercourse, therefore, was the one which I most sincerely wished, and thought the sooner it was adopted the better; that if our members {19} should be ill-treated below, as had been alleged by some gentlemen, the fault would not be ours, and then we would be fully justified in adopting some other mode; that a communication by our Secretary was a bad one; that it interrupted business, as we could not proceed without him. If we meant it by way of returning the affront that had been offered to us, this was wrong. We should send the bill by letter, and this would be treating them in kind.

I was answered, or at least an attempt was made, but I was not convinced. Mr. Langdon got up soon after, and seemed to adopt all I had said, but the motion was carried against us. Elsworth was with us and so was Mr. Carrol, but he concluded with saying he would this time vote for the Secretary to go down with the bill. Gave my landlord another half Johannes. He now owes me £2 1s. 10d. Paid him for some wood.

I forgot to minute a very long speech of Mr. Elsworth when the bill was on the third reading. He prefaced his discourse by saying he would make no motion, but gentlemen might do as they pleased after he had delivered his sentiments. The whole amounted to this, that the great and dignified station of the President and the conspicuous part he would act in the field of legislation, as all laws must pass in review before. him, and were subject to his revision and correction, etc., entitled him to have his name or place marked in the enacting clause of all laws; or at least he should be brought into view among the component parts of Congress. Ideas of the above kind were dwelt on and varied with agreeable enough diction for nearly a quarter of an hour. I am confident Elsworth neither wished nor expected to have any serious motion made on such untenable ground. What, then, could be his motive? Solely to play the courtier? Something of this kind had been hinted from the Chair. Mr. Izard had been explicit on the subject, Mr. Elsworth now plays a middle game. He knows the thing can not take place, but he will bring it fully in view so that he can say, "It was not my fault," and thus secure his interest with the high-toned courtiers. Is such a man to be trusted? No motion was made; indeed, the spirit of his address was reducible to this: "I will make no motion; if any of you are foolish enough to do it, you may."

{20}

May 6th. — No Senate this day; there was a commencement at Saint Paul's Church; the Senate were served with tickets. Dr. Johnson, the principal of the college, could not attend with us. I had heard that Mr. Morris was come to town. I went for his lodgings. This another useless journey, for he has not come. I would have been very glad of Mr. Morris' company. It has happened otherwise. I have been a bird alone. I have had to bear the chilling cold of the North and the intemperate warmth of the South, neither of which is favorable to the Middle State from which I come. Lee and Izard, hot as the burning sands of Carolina, hate us. Adams with all his frigid friends, cool and wary, bear us no good-will. I could not find a confidant in one of them, or say to my heart, "Here is the man I can trust." What has been my conduct, then? Spirit of Rectitude, bear witness for me. Have I trimmed to one of them? Or have I withheld a single sentiment that my judgment approved of? I trust I have not. Regardless of consequences, with no eye to emolument, without desire for reappointment, I mean to act as if I were immortal, and yet I wish to give satisfaction and content to the State that sent me here. Never, however, will I purchase that with discontent in my own bosom, nor does my dear country demand such a sacrifice at my hand.

May 7th. — The bill for taking the oath for the support of the Constitution came up. The amendments all agreed to, and a small one added. The committee reported an answer to the President's speech. It was read. One part was objected to, which stated the United States to have been in anarchy and confusion, and the President stepping in and rescuing them. A very long debate. The words were struck out. Mr. Lee offered part of a sentence which, I thought, filled the sentence with propriety. It was, however, lost. Mr. Patterson offered a clause, "rescued us from evils impending over us." This was carried; but half the Senate nearly made sour faces at it. Mr. Elsworth said it was tautological, but seemed at a loss as to mending it. I rose, more in consequence of a kind of determination that I have adopted of saying something every day than from any fondness of the subject. I admitted that there appeared something tautological in the words, {21} and it was not easy to mend them consistent with elegant diction, but, if the first syllable was taken from the word impending, it would then stand, "evils pending over us." The objection would be obviated, but I would not say the language would be eloquent. But, since I was up, I could not help remarking that I thought the whole clause improper; that to state the whole Union as being in anarchy or under impending ruin was sanctifying the calumnies of our enemies, who had long labored in the foreign gazettes to represent us as a people void of government. It was fixing a stain on the annals of America, for future historians would appeal to the transactions of this very day as a proof of our disordered circumstances. I therefore was against the whole clause. Mr. Wyngate followed me, and was for having the clause struck [out]. This could not well be done consistent with order. I mentioned that, if a reconsideration was moved, I would second it. It was reconsidered and amended, and afterward recommitted to the same committee. They retired for the purpose of dressing it.

Now the Vice-President rose to draw the attention of the Senate to the manner of delivering the answer to the President. A committee was appointed to confer on this and other subjects with a committee of Representatives. "There are three ways, gentlemen" (said our Vice-President), "by which the President may communicate with us. One is personally. If he comes here, we must have a seat for him. In England it is called a throne. To be sure, it is behind that seat we must seek for shelter and protection. The second is by a minister of state. The third is by his chamberlain or one of his aides-de-camp, I had almost said, but that is a military phrase. It may become a great constitutional question." Seeing the House look blank, he said, "I throw these things out for gentlemen to think of." Mr. Lee got up and said something on the propriety of having a seat with a canopy for the President. Mr. Langdon said something, but did not seem well collected, and spoke so low I did not hear him.

The time was trifled till near three o'clock. The day was cold, and the members collected near the fire, leaving their seats. The committee returned with the message, and it really {22} read vastly better, and was altered in the exceptional phrases. In one place, speaking of the Government, it mentioned "dignity and splendor." I submitted it to the gentlemen who had the amending of it whether "respectability" was not better than splendor. Mr. Carrol, of the committee, did not defend the word "splendor," but said "respectability" had been used before, if he recollected right. Mr. Patterson said it sounded much better than "respectability," and rounded the period. Dr. Johnson said "splendor" signified in this place the highest perfection of government. These were the three members of the committee. I mentioned that, if the word respectability had been used immediately before, it would be improper; that dignity alone I thought expressed all that was wanted. As to the seeking of sounding names and pompous expressions, I thought them exceptionable on that very account, and that no argument was necessary to show it; that different men had a train of different ideas raised by the same word; that "splendor," when applied to government, brought into my mind, instead of the highest perfection, all the faulty finery, brilliant scenes, and expensive trappings of royal government, and impressed my mind with an idea quite the reverse of republican respectability, which I thought consisted in firm and prudent councils, frugality, and economy.

I found I was not seconded, and concluded that my motion went to recommend a reconsideration of the word "splendor" to the committee. They did not alter it, and the answer was agreed to. The Vice-President rose in the chair and repeated twice, with more joy in his face than I had ever seen him assume before, he hoped the Government would be supported with dignity and splendor. I thought he did it by way of triumph over me for a former defeat I gave him, but may be I was mistaken.

May 8th. — Attended a joint committee on the papers of the old Congress. Made progress in the business. Agreed to meet at half-past ten on Monday and report. Senate formed. The Secretary, as usual, had made some mistakes, which were rectified, and now Mr. Elsworth moved for the report of the Joint Committee to be taken up on the subject of titles. It was accordingly done. Mr. Lee led the business. He took {23} his old ground — all the world, civilized and savage, called for titles; that there must be something in human nature that occasioned this general consent; that, therefore, he conceived it was right. Here he began to enumerate many nations who gave titles — such as Venice, Genoa, and others. The Greeks and Romans, it was said, had no titles, "but" (making a profound bow to the Chair) "you were pleased to set us right in this with respect to the Conscript Fathers the other day." Here he repeated the Vice-President's speech of the 23d ultimo [April], almost verbatim all over.

Mr. Elsworth rose. He had a paper in Iris hat, which he looked constantly at. He repeated almost all that Mr. Lee had said, but got on the subject of kings — declared that the sentence in the primer of fear God and honor the king was of great importance; that kings were of divine appointment; that Saul, the head and shoulders taller than the rest of the people, was elected by God and anointed by his appointment.

I sat, after he had done, for a considerable time, to see if anybody would rise. At last I got up and first answered Lee as well as I could with nearly the same arguments, drawn from the Constitution, as I had used on the 23d ult. I mentioned that within the space of twenty years back more light had been thrown on the subject of governments and on human affairs in general than for several generations before; that this light of knowledge had diminished the veneration for titles, and that mankind now considered themselves as little bound to imitate the follies of civilized nations as the brutalities of savages; that the abuse of power and the fear of bloody masters had extorted titles as well as adoration, in some instances from the trembling crowd; that the impression now on the minds of the citizens of these States was that of horror for kingly authority.

Izard got up. He dwelt almost entirely on the antiquity of kingly government. He could not, however, well get further back than Philip of Macedon. He seemed to have forgot both Homer and the Bible. He urged for something equivalent to nobility having been common among the Romans, for they had three names that seemed to answer to honorable, or something like it, before and something behind. He did not {24} say Esquire. Mr. Carrol rose and took my side of the question. He followed nearly the track I had been in, and dwelt much on the information that was now abroad in the world. He spoke against kings. Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard were both up again. Elsworth was up again. Langdon was up several times, but spoke short each time. Patterson was up, but there was no knowing which side he was of. Mr. Lee considered him as against him and answered him, but Patterson finally voted with Lee. The Vice-President repeatedly helped the speakers for titles. Elsworth was enumerating how common the appellation of President was. The Vice-President put him in mind that there were presidents of fire companies and of a cricket club. Mr. Lee at another time was saying he believed some of the States authorized titles by their Constitutions. The Vice-President, from the chair, told him that Connecticut did it. At sundry other times he interfered in a like manner. I had been frequently up to answer new points during the debate.

I collected myself for a last effort. I read the clause in the Constitution against titles of nobility; showed that the spirit. of it was against not only granting titles by Congress, but against the permission of foreign potentates granting any titles whatever; that as to kingly government, it was equally out of the question, as a republican government was guaranteed to every State in the Union; that they were both equally forbidden fruit of the Constitution. I called the attention of the House to the consequences that were like to follow; that gentlemen seemed to court a rupture with the other House. The Representatives had adopted the report, and were this day acting on it, or according to the spirit of the report. We were proposing a title. Our conduct would mark us to the world as actuated by the spirit of dissension, and the characters of the Houses would be as aristocratic and democratical.

The report [of the Committee on Titles] was, however, rejected. "Excellency" was moved for as a title by Mr. Izard. It was withdrawn by Mr. Izard, and "highness" with some prefatory word, proposed by Mr. Lee. Now long harangues were made in favor of this title. "Elective " was placed before. It was insisted that such a dignified title would add {25} greatly to the weight and authority of the Government both at home and abroad. I declared myself totally of a different opinion; that at present it was impossible to add to the respect entertained for General Washington; that if you gave him the title of any foreign prince or potentate, a belief would follow that the manners of that prince and his modes of government would be adopted by the President. (Mr. Lee had, just before I got up, read over a list of the titles of all the princes and potentates of the earth, marking where the word "highness" occurred. The Grand Turk had it, all the princes of Germany had [it], sons and daughters of crown heads, etc.) That particularly "elective highness," which sounded nearly like "electoral highness," would have a most ungrateful sound to many thousands of industrious citizens who had fled from German oppression; that "highness" was part of the title of a prince or princes of the blood, and was often given to dukes; that it, was degrading our President to place him on a par with any prince of any blood in Europe, nor was there one of them that could enter the list of true glory with him.

But I will minute no more. The debate lasted till half after three o'clock, and it ended in appointing a committee to' consider of a title to be given to the President. This whole silly business is the work of Mr. Adams and Mr. Lee; Izard follows Lee, and the New England men, who always herd together, follow Mr. Adams. Mr. Thompson says this used to be the case in the old Congress. I had, to be sure, the greatest share in this debate, and must now have completely sold (no, sold is a bad word, for I have got nothing for it)every particle of court favor, for a court our House seems determined on, and to run into all the fooleries, fopperies, finches, and pomp of royal etiquette; and all this for Mr. Adams.

May 9th. — Attended the Hall at ten o'clock to go on the Judicial Committee. Met many of the member's. I know not the motive, but I never was received more familiarity, nor quite so much, before by the members. Elsworth in particular seemed to show a kind of fondness. The Judicial Committee did no business. Senate formed. It took a long time to correct the minutes. Otis keeps them miserably. At length the committee came in and reported a title — His Highness the {26} President of the United States of America and Protector of the Rights of the Same. Mr. Few had spoken a word or two with me, and signified his unwillingness to do anything hastily. He got up and spoke a great deal against hasty measures. He did not pointedly move for postponement, but it amounted nearly to it. The Clerk of the other House in the mean time appeared at the bar and announced the adoption of the report of the Joint Committee (rejecting titles).

I got up and expressed my opinion that what had fallen from the honorable gentleman from Georgia amounted to a motion for postponement, and asked leave to second him. I then pointed out the rupture that was likely to ensue with the other House; that this was a matter of very serious import, and I thought it our indispensable duty to avoid any inconvenience of that kind; that by the arrangement between the Houses in ease of disagreement a conference might be requested; that my intention was, if the postponement was carried, to move immediately for a committee of conference to be appointed on the difference between the Houses, and I had hopes that by these means all subject of debate would be done away. Mr. Read got up and moved that the report might be adopted. He was not seconded, but the motion was in itself idle. Mr. Strong spoke in favor of the postponement, and was interrupted from the Chair. Mr. Dalton after some time spoke in favor of it. I could now see a visible anxiety in the Chair.

I had a fine, slack, and easy time of it to-day. Friends seemed to rise in succession. Lee went over his old ground twice, but owned at last there was great difficulty every way, but said plainly the best mode was for the House to adopt the report, and then the other House would follow. He found, however, the current began to turn against him, and he laid his head on his hand as if he would have slept. Mr. Strong was up again. He said among many things that he thought the other House would follow, but there was a risk in it.

Mr. Izard got up at last. He, too, was for a postponement. I could see the Vice-President kindled at him. Mr. Izard said we knew the other House had adopted the report [rejecting titles]. The Vice-President interrupted him and said no; we had no right to know it nor could we know it until after the {27} Clerk had this morning given official information. The members fixed themselves, and the question was called for.

Up now got the Vice-President, and for forty minutes did he harangue us from the chair. the began first on the subject of order, and found fault with everything almost, but down he came to particulars, and pointedly blamed a member for disorderly behavior. The member had mentioned the appearance of a captious disposition in the other House. This was disorderly and spoke with asperity. The member meant was Mr. Izard. All this was only prefatory. On he got to his favorite topic of titles, and over the old ground of the immense advantage of, the absolute necessity of them. When he had exhausted this subject he turned a new leaf, I believe, on the conviction that the postponement would be carried and perhaps the business lost by an attention to the other House.

"Gentlemen, I must tell you that it is you and the President that have the making of titles. Suppose the President to have the appointment of Mr. Jefferson at the court of France. Mr. Jefferson is, in virtue of that appointment, the most illustrious, tho most powerful, and what not. But the President must be himself something that includes all the dignities of the diplomatic corps and something greater still. What will the common people of foreign countries, what will the sailors and the soldiers say, 'George Washington, President of the United States'? They will despise him to all eternity. This is all nonsense to the philosopher, but so is all government whatever."

The above I recollect with great precision, but he said fifty more things, equally injudicious, which I do not think worth minuting. It is evident that he begins to despair of getting the article of titles through the House of Representatives, and has turned his eye to get it done solely by the Senate.

Having experienced relief by the interference of sundry members, I had determined not to say another word, but his new leaf appeared so absurd I could not help some animadversions on it. I rose. Mr. President, the Constitution of the United States has designated our Chief Magistrate by the appellation of the President of the United States of America. This is his title of office, nor can we alter, add to, or diminish it without infringing the Constitution. In like manner persons {28} authorized to transact business with foreign powers are styled Ambassadors, Public Ministers, etc. To give them any other appellation would be an equal infringement. As to grades of orders or titles of nobility, nothing of the kind can be established by Congress.

Can, then, the President and Senate do that which is prohibited to the United States at large? Certainly not. Let us read the Constitution: No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States. The Constitution goes further. The servants of the public are prohibited from accepting them from any foreign state, king, or prince. So that the appellations and terms given to nobility in the Old World are contraband language in the United States, nor can we apply them to our citizens consistent with the Constitution. As to what the common people, soldiers, and sailors of foreign countries may think of us, I do not think it imports us much. Perhaps the less they think, or have occasion to think of us, the better.

But suppose this a desirable point, how is it to be gained? The English excepted, foreigners do not understand our language. We must use Hohen Mogende to a Dutchman, Beylerbey to a Turk or Algerine, and so of the rest. From the English indeed we may borrow terms that would not be wholly unintelligible to our own citizens. But will they thank us for the compliment? Would not the plagiarism be more likely to be attended with contempt than respect among all of them? It has been admitted that all this is nonsense to the philosopher. I am ready to admit that every high-sounding, pompous appellation, descriptive of qualities which the object does not possess, must appear bombastic nonsense in the eye of every wise man. But I can not admit such an idea with respect to government itself. philosophers have admitted not the utility but the necessity of it [government], and their labors have been directed to correct the vices and expose the follies which have been ingrafted upon it, and to reduce the practice of it to the principles of common sense, such as we see exemplified by the merchant, the mechanic, and the farmer, whose every act or operation tends to a productive or beneficial effect, and, above all, to illustrate this fact, that government was instituted for the benefit of the people, and that no act of government is justifiable {29} that has not this for its object. Such has been the labor of philosophers with respect to government, and sorry indeed would I be if their labors should be in vain.

After all this he had to put the question, and the postponement was carried. I kept my word, and offered the resolution for a conference on the differences, etc. It was carried, and the committee appointed. Elsworth, the most conceited man in the world, drew up a new resolution. It was to keep the differences out of sight, and to proceed de novo on a title for the President. I did not enter into debate, but expressed my fear that the House of Representatives would be irritated and would not meet us on that ground. And, as if they meant to provoke the other House, they insisted that the minute of rejection should go down with the appointment of the committee. Little good can come of it thus circumstanced, more especially as the old committee were reappointed.

May 10th. — Being Sunday, bathed and stayed at home all the day after, as it was raining and I was afraid to go out, for fear of catching cold. Wrote to my family as usual. A Philadelphia merchant was in with Mr. Wynkoop. He alleged that Mr. Fitzsimons delayed the Impost bill, while his own Indiamen should arrive, for it seems he has more than one. On Friday evening Mr. Fitzsimons avowed that he had set Gerry on to bring in the Company bill. Now, it seems the Company bill must be rejected again. I asked Mr. Fitzsimons what could be the means of the bill hanging so long in the hands of the committee. He blamed Gerry; said it was left with Gerry last Saturday; that he had called this evening (Friday), and he found it still lying on Mr. Gerry's table untouched. I asked if he did not expect blame; he said he was afraid they would say of him, as he was a merchant, that he delayed it until his own vessels would arrive from the East Indies. They do, indeed, say so; and I say the bill is delayed by some means to the great loss of revenue. Mr. Wynkoop remarked that Mr. Fitzsimons acted in a double capacity — as a merchant and as a Representative. The man replied shrewdly, "You will always find the merchant uppermost."

May 11th. — I have actually delayed making up my journal for this day until the morning of the 12th. I feel how very {30} wrong it is. There is a bluntness over my memory already. The first thing I did in the morning was delivering my letters at the post-office. Called to see if Mr. Morris was come to town. He was not. Met two committees at the hall: first on the affairs of the Old Congress Papers. This business disposed of, the second on the judiciary department. Senate met. Mr. Lee moved to put off the order of the day, on the subject of titles, until to-morrow. Agreed to. He then moved to consider the appointing of a
Sergeant-at-Arms. This lost. Mr. Izard and sundry gentlemen of the Senate [were] dissatisfied with our Vice-President. He takes on him to school the members from the chair. His grasping after titles has been observed by everybody. Mr. Izard, after describing his air, manner, deportment, and personal figure in the chair, concluded with applying the title of Rotundity to him. I have really often looked at him with surprise mingled with contempt when he is in the chair and no business before the Senate. Instead of that sedate, easy air which I would have him possess, he will look on one side, then on the other, then down on the knees of his breeches, then dimple his visage with the most silly kind of half smile which I can not well express in English. The Scotch-Irish have a word that hits it exactly — smudging. God forgive me for the vile thought, but I can not help thinking of a monkey just put into breeches when I saw him betray such evident marks of self-conceit. He made us a speech this day also, but, as I did not minute the heads of it when he spoke, I will not attempt to recollect it.

Senate adjourned, and the Judicial Committee met. Sat like near three o'clock. Appointed a sub-committee to draft a bill. I do not like it in any part, or rather I generally dislike it, but we will see how it looks in form of a bill. After dinner we were called on by the Speaker and his brother and asked to eat a Pennsylvania dinner to-morrow. Took a walk.

I received a ticket from the President of the United States to use his box this evening at the theatre, being the first of his appearance at the playhouse since his entering on his office. Went. The President, Governor of the State, foreign Ministers, Senators from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, M. [Maryland or Massachusetts?], and South Carolina; {31} and some ladies in the same box. I am old, and notices or attentions are lost on me. I could have wished some of my dear children in my place; they are young and would have enjoyed it. Long might they live to boast of having been seated in the same box with the first Character in the world. The play was the "School for Scandal." I never liked it; indeed, I think it an indecent representation before ladies of character and virtue. Farce, the "Old Soldier." "The house greatly crowded, and I thought the players acted well; but I wish we had seen the Conscious Lovers, or some one that inculcated more prudential manners.

May 12th. — Went early this morning to wait on Mr. Fitzsimons. Was informed that Mr. Morris had called to see him this morning. Took no notice of this, but went in quest of Mr. Morris. Found him at the door where he kept his office. Took a long walk with him, and gave him a detail of all that had happened in the Senate since he left it, as exactly as I could. He seemed to listen to me in a friendly way. Came to the Hall at eleven. Senate met, but there really was nothing happened worth mentioning. The business of considering the rifle, which was laid on the table, was postponed to see what would be the result of the conference of the joint committee on that business. Adjourned.

Went to hear the debates of the House of Representatives from the gallery. From thence went with Mr. Morris to the President's levee Stayed until the company began to withdraw. Felt, I believe, a little awkward, for my knee pained me, and this business of standing was not very agreeable to me. Left Mr. Morris at the levee; came home. Stayed till four o'clock, and went and dined with the Speaker of the House.

This day the Vice-President gave us no set speech from the chair, but I know not whether it was want of memory or design, but a motion made by me and seconded by Lee was passed by him and a second motion put. He [Mr. Adams], however, seemed confused. The speech which he made yesterday was on the subject of our having a Sergeant-at-Arms. He seemed to wish that the officer should be Usher of the Black Rod. He described {32} House of Lords, and concluded by telling us that Sir Francis Mollineaux was the officer, and that he had the honor of being introduced to the House of Lords.

My business with Mr. Fitzsimons this morning was to inform him how much I feared the cabal of the New England members in the Senate; and that, if they were not gratified in some measure on their favorite article of molasses, they would join with every member who objected to any single article, and promise him gratification in his particular humor if he would join them. By these means, all the discontents being united, and indulgence given even to caprice and whim, the bill would be lost. He laughed at my fears. The molasses affair was to be called up again. I asked him if he was sure of [a] majority in the House for continuing the duty at six cents. "Very confident of it"; yet he was mistaken, and it was reduced to five.

I felt great joy on the coming of Mr. Morris to town, for now I shall have one in whom I can confide.

May 13th. — Paid some visits this morning. Senate met. The Vice-President put us in mind that the report for the President's title lay on the table. Mr. Lee informed the House that the committee on that business had met, but being in the Senate chamber were dispersed on the meeting of the Senate, and had agreed to meet to-morrow morning. Report for classing the Senate permitted to lie on the table. Moved, and a committee appointed to confer on the subject of newspapers. A committee of nine appointed for the penal Federal laws. I can observe total change of behavior, or at least a considerable one, in our Vice-President. Instead of directing two Senators to read the ballots for committee-men, as he did heretofore, he this day read them aloud from the chair, and the Clerk tallied. This is the first step toward reformation, and I hope it will be progressive.

May 14th. — This a most stormy day, with rain. Went to the Hall half after nine. Met Mr. Ellicott and took him with me to the Board of Treasury. He left his papers. I met the committee for the dividing of the rooms. I told Few and the committee in general that I had heard there were designs on foot to saddle Congress with the expenses of the City Hall. He did not give a word of answer. L'Enfant was with us, and, this office as appurtenant to the {33} like most Frenchmen, was so talkative that scarce a word could be said. Adjourned, to meet to-morrow at ten o'clock. Senate met. The Vice-President reminded us of the title report. The committee Was out on that business. Classing report adopted. A motion of yesterday was on the table for the regulating joint committees. Elsworth, according to His custom, drew another one. Mr. Langdon withdrew his complaisance to Mr. Elsworth. Lee moved to strike out the latter part of Elsworth's. Elsworth, in complaisance to Lee, seconded him. This spoiled the motion, and, all complaisance being at an end, the rest was rejected by the House.

It was here the Vice-President made us his speech for the day. He said parliamentary customs, when found convenient, should be followed as good examples (this is the first time I ever heard him guard his parliamentary lessons, but I observed yesterday that there was a change); that conferences were very seldom used by the Houses in Great Britain; that little benefit was obtained from them; that there could be but little use only in ease of difference of opinion with respect to bills. The whole seemed to aim at lessening the intercourse between the two Houses. I could not help thinking of his speech of the 9th instant. It seemed the second part of it.

Now rose Mr. Lee to report on titles from the Joint Committee. He reported that the committee from the other House had adhered in the strictest manner to their former resolution. He moved that the report, which had been laid on the table, in favor of titles, should be entered on the files of the House, and that a motion which he had in his band should be adopted. The spirit of the motion was that, to keep up a proper respect for our Chief Magistrate, attention should be paid to the customs of civilized nations; that the appearance of the affectation of simplicity would be injurious; that the Senate had decided in favor of titles from these motives; but that, in conformity to the practice of the other House, for the present, they resolved to address the President without title.

Yesterday Mr. Muhlenberg accosted me with Your Highness of the Senate. On my pausing, he said Mr. Wynkoop had been christened by them "His Highness of the Lower House," and he thought I was entitled to the same distinction {34} in the Senate. As we had the business all over again to-day, I determined to try what ridicule could do. Mr. President, if all men were of one stature, there would be neither high nor low. Highness, when applied to an individual, must naturally denote the excess of stature which he possesses over other men. An honorable member told us the other day of a certain king [Saul] who was a head and shoulders taller than anybody else. This, more especially when he was gloriously greased with a great horn of oil, must render him highly conspicuous. History, too, if I mistake not, will furnish us with an example where a great Thracian obtained the empire of the world from no other circumstance. But, if this antiquated principle is to be adopted, give us fair play. Let America be searched, and it is most probable that the honor will be found to belong to some huge Paragonian. This, indeed, is putting one sadly over the head of another. True, but Nature has done it, and men should see where she leads before they adopt her as a guide.

It may be said that this business is metaphorical, and the high station of the President entitled him to it. Nothing can be true metaphorically which is not so naturally, and under this view of the proposed title it belongs with more propriety to the man in the moon than anybody else, as his station (when we have the honor of seeing him) is certainly the most exalted of any that we know of. Gentlemen may say this is fanciful. Would they wish to see the subject in the most serious point of view that it is possible to place? Rome, after being benighted for ages in the darkest gloom of ecclesiastic and aristocratic tyranny, beheld a reformer [Rienzi] in the fourteenth century, who, preaching from stocks and stones and the busts and fragments of ancient heroes, lighted up the lamp of liberty to meridian splendor. Intoxicated with success, he assumed a string of titles, none of which, in my recollection, was equally absurd with the one before you; in consequence of which, and of his aping some other symbols of nobility and royalty, he fell and pulled down the whole republican structure along with. him, marking particularly the subject of titles as one of the principal rocks on which he was shipwrecked. As to the latter part of the title, I would only observe that the power of war is the organ of protection. This is placed in Congress by the Constitution. {35} Any attempt to divest them of it and place it elsewhere, even with George Washington, is treason against the United States, or, at least, a violation of the Constitution.

In order to get out of the kind of puzzle which Lee had engaged us in, we moved a general postponement of the report on the title, hoping this would cut up the whole matter by the roots. It was carried. And even after this Lee hung with obstinacy to the idea of putting it on the files of the House.

Through the whole of this base business I have endeavored to mark the conduct of General Washington. I have no clew that will lead me fairly to any just conclusion as to his sentiments. I think it scarce possible, but he must have dropped something on a subject which has excited so much warmth. If he did, it was not on our side, or I would have heard it. But no matter. I have, by plowing with the heifer of the other House, completely defeated them.

Mr. Carrol rose and opposed the imperfect resolution being put on the files by order of the House. I seconded him in opposing this, as putting such a thing on the files by special order of the House was giving it an authority which no postponed paper should have, and carried the air of adoption. Papers were never specially ordered on the files but with a view of perpetuating information. A special order for putting on the files would hereafter be considered as an adoption, this part of this motion being lost by a general postponement of the report.

Mr. Morris rose after the question had been carried, and expressed his dislike of the title, viz., Highness and Protector of the Rights of America. He said the protection lay with the whole Congress. He was right in his remarks, but he was told the question was carried. Mr. Carrol expressed great dislike at the fore part of the motion, which stated the acts of the Senate to be in favor of titles, when in fact, no such resolution ever had passed the Senate. I rose and moved a division of the motion. Was immediately seconded by Mr. Carrol. Now a long debate ensued. Mr. Elsworth traversed the field of titles over again. Dr. Johnson spoke much more to the point. Mr. Patterson, after reading over the motion, was of opinion that a division should take place at the word {36} "Senate." I was also, with Mr. Morris, of opinion that the division would stand best at this place. I withdrew my motion and seconded his for the division from the word "Senate." The division was full enough to answer all the purposes which they avowed, talking it at this place. But it is evident they have not given up the idea of titles, and seem insultingly to say so to the House of Representatives. Affectation of simplicity is directly charged on the other House. This they amended by putting in the word appearance.

I endeavored to draw my principal argument, when last up, from the unfairness of the fore part. It expressly recited a determination of the Senate to grant rifles. No such resolution had ever passed. It might be implied that the Senate were in favor of titles, but why refer to a resolution that did not exist? Accommodation was the principle held out. But was ever [a] thing done with so ill grace? It was saying, "We meet you on the principles of accommodation, but you are completely wrong, and we are perfectly right." Can any good come of such accommodation? Mr. Carrol declared that the idea held forth was that the Senate were for titles, but it was well known they were not all for titles. He was opposed, and so were sundry other gentlemen. He wished only for a fair question, that it might be seen who were for them and who were not. He wished the yeas and nays, and let the world judge. Mr. Few declared the gentleman had missed the opportunity of the yeas and nays. They should have been called when the report against titles was rejected. Mr. Few was much out in this, for there were but three of us, and he need not have made his remarks. It was evident that they wished to prevent the yeas and nays. The question was put. The House divided. Eight with us; ten against us. Mr. Carrol called for the yeas and nays. None rose with him but Mr. Henry and myself, and for want of another man we lost them.

The committee was now ordered to wait on the President to know the time when he will be pleased to receive the address of the Senate. The report of the joint committee on the enrollment of papers was read, and the House adjourned.

And now I hope we have disposed of a business [relating {37} to titles] which in one shape or other has engaged almost the whole time of the Senate from the 23d of April, the day that our Vice-President began it. Had it not been for Mr. Lee I am firmly convinced no other man would have ventured to follow our Vice-President. But Lee led, Elsworth seconded him, the New England men followed, and Mr. Izard joined them, but really haud passibus æquis, for he was only for the title of "Excellency," which had been sanctified by use. Lee has a cultivated understanding, great practice in public business, with a factious, restless disposition. He has acted as a high priest through the whole of this idolatrous business.

It is easy to see what his aim is. By flattering the President of the Senate he hopes to govern all the members from New England and, with a little assistance from Carolina or Georgia, to be absolute in the Senate. Elsworth, and some more of the New England men, flatter him in turn, expecting he will be with them on the question of residence [of Congress]. Had it not been for our Vice-President and Lee, I am convinced the Senate would have been as averse to titles as the House of Representatives. The game that our Vice-President and Mr. Lee appear to have now in view is to separate the Senate as much as possible from the House of Representatives. Our Vice-President's doctrine is that all honors and titles should flow from the President [of the United States] and Senate only. But, once more, subject of titles, farewell; may I never hear motion or debate on thee more!

Memorandum: The fall of Rienzi, the Roman reformer, who split on the rock of titles, was completely in point.

May 15th. — Called early this morning on Mr. Scott. I know not where he was, but I did not find him until the fourth time of my calling. It was to guard him on tire subject of appropriating the rooms of the City Hall. This is a deceitful business. I put into his hands a form of a report. But he does not seem to be the right stuff to work with; but I have got the business in a good train, and Mr. White, of Virginia, is to draw a report.

Senate met. On the reading of the minutes Mr. Few got up and moved warmly that the minute of yesterday on the division of Mr. Lee's motion should be struck out. Lee was {38) for it in a moment. By these means the vote of yesterday, which respected titles, would have the appearance of unanimity. It was opposed by Mr. Carrol, Elsworth, and myself. The minute, however, remained. The committee reported that the President of the United States would receive our address a quarter after twelve on Monday. It was said we should go in carriages.

The classing report was called for; the ballots were drawn. I fell in the first class.*

[* The short term of two years in the Senate (which were decided by lot), with Mr. Dalton, Mr. Elsworth, Mr. Elmer, Mr. Cartel, and Mr. Grayson.]

The Vice-President now informed the Senate that a letter had come to his hand which he supposed was intended for him, but it was most improperly directed. It was directed to "His Excellency the Vice-President." He asked the opinion of the Senate, laughingly, and concluded it was against all rule. I said that until we had a rule obliging people to be regular we must submit to their irregularities, more especially of this kind. Mr. Morris said the majesty of the people would do as they pleased. All this I considered as sportive. But he [Mr. Adams] put a serious question, Should the letter, so directed, be read? Langdon and sundry others said yes; and read it was, from Loudon, the printer, offering to print for us. Adjourned.

I can not help here noting a trait of insolence in Lee, Elsworth, and Johnson. This committee [of titles] take on them to inform the committee of the Representatives that the Senate would, for the present, address the President under the same style and title as the House of Representatives had given him. This, in fact, was saying the Senate will do what we please. Insolence, indeed, but the fact justifies it. But, with all their art, I have balked them for once.

May 16th. — Settled all accounts with Mr. Vandalsen, and he owes me twelve shillings and sixpence. Visited Mr. Dalton and Mr. Langdon. Attended the committee on the dividing the rooms; declared my sentiments plainly, with all respect to the residence of Congress. It was brought in view by talk of this kind: that from here we would go; that I scorned all private trick and cabal about it, and would openly, at all times, {39} declare for a departure from this place. Committee to meet on Monday at ten.

Senate met. A message came from the House of Representatives. It was on the affair of a joint committee on newspapers and employing printers. Sundry petitions had come in from different printers. One was just now read from one Fenno. I moved that Fenno's, and all petitions of a similar nature, should be referred, for information, to the Committee on Newspapers and Employing Printers. It was seconded. Elsworth rose in great warmth and opposed it violently. Some more of the New England men joined him. It really seemed to me as if he wished to try whether he could not carry anything. He was, however, disappointed. A report of a committee for revising the minutes was read. The petition of one Duncan Campbell was read, and occasioned sundry remarks. Laid on the table.

The address to the President was now produced engrossed. The word "to" disobliged Elsworth, and a long debate ensued about it. I did not touch the trite subject. But it was to be signed, and here a mighty difficulty was signified from the Chair, and the wisdom of the House called on to determine if the Chair had done right. Every act had been signed "'J. A., Vice-President." The Vice-President gave this information in such a way as left nobody in doubt that his opinion went with the practice. Mr. Carrol got up and said he thought it a matter of indifference, and concluded that he agreed it should be signed "Vice-President." His looks, I thought, betrayed dissent. But the goddess of good nature will apologize for this slight aberration from sentimental rectitude. He has for some time past been equally with myself opposed to the opinions of the Chair, and this was his peace-offering. About two weeks ago I was with Mr. Read, of the Delaware State, in the upper gallery of the House of Representatives. A message came from the Senate. The signature was read aloud: "John Adams, Vice-President." Mr. Read turned to me and said, "This is wrong." Yet Mr. Read now made a very long speech, declaring there was no impropriety in it. Mr. Lee hinted, very diffidently, his disapprobation of it. Mr. Morris said our acts should be signed by our Vice-President. Mr. {40} Elsworth showed some inconvenience that would attend this practice.

I rose. Said the very term Vice-President carried on the face of it the idea of holding the place of the President in his absence; that every act done by the Vice-President as such implied that when so acting he held the place of the President. In this point of view nothing could be more improper than the Vice-President signing an address to the President. It was like a man signing an address to himself. That the business of the Vice-President was when he acted exactly the same with that of President, and could not mix itself with us as a Senate.

Here the Vice-President tried very hard to raise a laugh. Seeing him willing to bear me down, I continued: "Sir, we know you not as Vice-President within this House. As President of the Senate only do we know you. As President of the Senate only can you sign or authenticate any act of that body." He said after I sat down that he believed he need not put the question; a majority of those who had spoken seemed to be in favor of his signing as President of the Senate. Mr. Carrol said he need not put the question, and none was put. Adjourned.

May 17th, Sunday. — Stayed at home all this day and bathed. Wrote letters to sundry persons. Did not go out until four o'clock, when I thought it warm enough. Called at the lodgings of Mr. Fitzsimons and Clymer. They had gone to Brunswick. Walked to the Speaker's house. We walked to Cuyler's Hook. The east wind blew raw and cold. I left them and came home. Found myself rather indisposed. Caught some cold in my walk and was the worse for it. I never had been in a place remarkable for such variable weather. Set out when one will, with ever such agreeable sunshine, I never have been able to go two miles and return without a change of air. The wind which crosses the North [Hudson] River is cold. But there is a rawness in the east wind that, with me, seems to clog the springs of life. Mr. Scott, however, from Washington County [Pennsylvania], has experienced a favorable revolution in his health since he came here.

May 18th, Monday. — Attended the Hall at ten o'clock on {41} what was called the arrangement committee, but they did not meet, and nothing was done; general discourse only obtained among [the members], principally on the necessity of our removal to the permanent residence. White, Sturges, and Scott were with me.

Senate met. The address [to the President] was read over, and we proceeded in carriages to the President's to present it. Having no part to act but that of a mute, I had nothing to embarrass me. We were received in an antechamber. Had some little difficulty about seats, as there were several wanting, from whence may be inferred that the President's major-domo is not the most provident, as our numbers were well enough known. We had not been seated more than three minutes when it was signified to us to wait on the President in his levee-room. The Vice-President went foremost, and the Senators followed without any particular order. We made our bows as we entered, and the Vice-President, having made a bow, began to read an address. He was much confused. The paper trembled in his hand, though he had the aid of both by resting it on his hat, which he held in his left hand. He read very badly all that was on the front pages. The turning of the page seemed to restore him, and he read the rest with more propriety. This agitation was the more remarkable, as there were but twenty-two persons present and none of them strangers.

The President took his reply but of his coat-pocket. He had his spectacles in his jacket-pocket, having his hat in his left hand and the paper in his right. He had too many objects for his hands. He shifted his hat between his forearm and the left side of his breast. But taking his spectacles from the case embarrassed him. He got rid of this small distress by laying the spectacle-case on the chimney-piece. Colonel Humphreys stood on his right, Mr. Lear on his left. Having adjusted his spectacles, which was not very easy, considering the engagements on his hands, he read the reply with tolerable exactness and without much emotion. I thought he should have received us with his spectacles on, which would have saved the making of some uncouth motions. Yet, on the whole, he did nearly as well as anybody could have done the {42} same motions. Could the laws of etiquette have permitted him to have been disencumbered of his hat, it would have relieved him much.

After having read his reply, he delivered the paper to the Vice-President with an easy inclination, bowed around to the company, and desired them to be seated. This politeness seems founded on reason, for men, after standing quite still some time, want to sit, if it were for only a minute or two. The Vice-President did not comply, nor did he refuse but stood so long that the President repeated the request. He declined it by making a low bow, and retired. We made our bows, came out to the door, and waited till our carriages took us up. Colonel Humphreys waited on us to the door.

Returned [to the Hall]. Senate formed. The address and reply were ordered on the minutes. The Clerk of the House of Representatives brought up the Impost bill. Thursday was assigned for it. Some petitions were read and the House adjourned.

May 19th. — Paid visits to ten o'clock. Attended at the City Hall, but the arranging committee did not meet. Senate met at eleven. A report was taken up regulating the mode of keeping the journals, and directing them to be published monthly. Agreed to, and the committee appointed to prepare them for the press. Adjourned. I was not of any committee, so went into the House of Representatives to hear the debates. The House was in committee of the whole on the establishment of the great departments. Stayed until after two o'clock.

Had agreed with sundry of our Pennsylvania friends to go to the levee. General Muhlenberg came to me and told me they would meet me in the committee-room. We did so, and went to the levee. I went foremost, and left them to follow and do as well as they could. Indeed, they had no great thing of a pattern, for I am but a poor courtier. The company was large for the room. The foreign Ministers were there, Van Berkel, the Dutch Minister (for the first time, I suppose), gaudy as a peacock. Our Pennsylvanians withdrew before me. The President honored me with a particular tête-à-tête. "How will this weather suit your farming?" "Poorly, sir; the season is the most backward I have ever known. It is {43} remarkably so here, but by letters from Pennsylvania vegetation is slow in proportion there." "The fruit, it is to be expected, will be safe; backward seasons are in favor of it, but in Virginia it was lost before I left that place." "Much depends on the exposure of the orchard. Those with a northern aspect have been found by us [in Pennsylvania] to be the most certain in producing fruit." "Yes, that is a good observation and should be attended to." Made my bow and retired.

May 20th. — I attended at the Hall about hair after ten o'clock. The committee did not meet me. Senate met, but there was no business done. Adjourned, that the committee might go to work. I thought I got cold yesterday in the House of Representatives, and set off to come home. Colonel Few overtook me, and we took a long walk to view the gardens of a Dutchman who lives beyond the Bowery. Spent some time, with a degree of satisfaction, viewing his harmless and silent little beauties of the garden. On the road Mr. Few threw out many generous sentiments on the subject of the temporary residence. The general belief is, however, that he is favorable to this place [New York]. Returned and felt nothing the better for my walk. Stayed at home the residue of the day. Mr. Clymer and Mr. Fitzsimons called to see us. Nothing remarkable.

{44}


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