George Washington Papers

From George Washington to David Stuart, 8 January 1797

Philadelphia 8th Jany 1797

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 18th Ulto with its enclosures, came to hand in the usual course of the Post; but the pressure of public business has prevented my giving it an acknowledgment until now.

The first thing I shall do after I am settled at Mount Vernon, will be to adjust all my accounts of a private nature; the doing of which, as they ought, has been prevented by public avocations.

What effect Mr Adets conduct has had, or will have on the public mind, you can form a better opinion of than me. One of the objects which he had in view, (in timing the publication) is too apparent to require explanation. Some of his own zealots, do not scruple to confess that, he has been too precipitate; and thereby injured the cause he meant to espouse; which is, to establish such an influence in this country as to sway the government, & control its measures. Evidences of this design are abundant, and new proofs are exhibiting themselves every day, to illustrate the fact; and yet, lamentable thought! a large party under real, or pretended fears of British influence, are moving heaven & earth to aid Him in their designs. It is a fact well known, for history proves it, that from the restless temper of the French, and the policy of that nation, they attempt openly, or covertly, by threats or soothing professions—to influence the conduct of most governments. That they have attempted it with us, a little time will shew; but finding a Neutral conduct had been adopted, and would not be relinquished by those who Administered the government—the next step, was to try the people; and to work upon them; several presses, & many Scribblers have been employed to emblazen the improper Acts of the British governmt and its Officers, and to place them in all the most exagerated & odious points of view they were Susceptible; to complain that there was not only a deficiency of friendship, but a want of justice also in the Executive, towards France the cause of which, say they, is to be found in a predeliction for Great Britain. This not working as well as was expected, from a supposition that there was too much confidence, & perhaps personal regard for the present Chief Majistrate & his politics, the batteries latterly have been levelled at him particularly & personally and although he is soon to become a private citizen, his opinions are to be knocked down, & his character reduced as low as they are capable of sinking it, even by resorting to absolute falsehoods. As an evidence whereof, and of the plan they were pursuing, I send you a letter from Mr Paine to me, Printed in this City & disseminated with great industry. Others of a similar nature are also in circulation.

To what lengths the French Directory will ultimately go, is difficult to say; but that they have been led to the present point by our own People, I have no doubt. Whether some, who have done this, would choose to accompany them any further, or not, I shall not undertake to decide. But I shall be mistaken if the candid part of my countrymen (although they may be under a French influence) do not see, and acknowledge, that they have imbibed erroneous impressions of the conduct of this government, towards France, when the communication which I promised at the opening of the Session & which will be ready in a few days, comes before the public. It will be seen, if I mistake not also that that country has not such a claim upon our gratitude as has been generally Supposed; and that this country has violated no engagement with it; been guilty of no Act of injustice towards it; nor have been wanting in friendship; where it could be rendered without departing from that Neutral station we had taken, & resolved to maintain.

Enclosed also, you will receive a production of Peter Porcupine, alias Wm Cobbet. Making allowances for the asperity of an Englishman; for some of his strong & course expressions; and a want of official information of many facts—it is not a bad thing.

I rejoice much to hear of Mrs Stuarts restoration to health—& congratulate you, & her on it, & on the birth of a daughter—My best wishes attend her & the family—and with very great regard—I am, Dr Sir Your Affecte

Go: Washington

PHi: Dreer Collection.

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