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gratitude, our character as men, are opposed to a coalition with them as subjects, but in case of the last extremity.

Were we easily to accede to terms of dependence, no nation, upon future occasions, let the oppressions of Britain be ever so flagrant and unjust, would interpose for our relief; or, at most, they would do it with a cautious reluctance, and upon conditions, most probably, that would be hard, if not dishonorable to us. France, by her supplies, has saved us from the yoke, thus far; and a wise and virtuous perseverance would, and I trust will, free us entirely.



According to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually admitted by all.

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without any thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of peace and amity towards other nations.

With me, a predominant motive has been, to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions; and to progress, without interruption, to that degree of strength and consistency,

which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes.


Having determined, as far as lay within the power of the Executive, to keep this country in a state of neutrality, I have made my public conduct accord with the system; and, whilst so acting as a public character, consistency and propriety as a private man forbid those intemperate expressions in favor of one nation, or to the prejudice of another, which many have indulged themselves in, and, I will venture to add, to the embarrassment of government, without producing any good to the country.

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Our situation is such as makes it not only unnecessary, but extremely imprudent, for us to take a part in their quarrels; and, whenever a contest happens among them, if we wisely and properly improve the advantage which nature has given us, we may be benefited by their folly, provided we conduct ourselves with circumspection and under proper restrictions.


Separated as we are, by a world of water, from other nations, if we are wise, we shall surely avoid being drawn into the labyrinth of their politics, and involved in their destructive wars.


America may think herself happy, in having the Atlantic for a barrier.



The impressions naturally produced by similarity of political sentiment, are justly to be regarded as causes of national sympathy, calculated to confirm the amicable ties which may otherwise subsist between nations. This reflection, independent of its more particular reference, must dispose every benevolent mind to unite in the wish, that a general diffusion of the true principles of liberty, assimilating as well as ameliorating the condition of mankind, and fostering the maxims of an ingenuous and virtuous policy, may tend to strengthen the Fraternity of the Human Race, to assuage the jealousies and animosities of its various subdivisions, and to convince them, more and more, that their true interest and felicity will best be promoted, by mutual good-will and universal harmony.




The nature of foreign negotiations requires caution; and their success must often depend on secrecy. Even when brought to a conclusion, a full disclo

sure of all the measures, demands, or eventual concessions, which have been proposed or contemplated, would be extremely impolitic; for this might have a pernicious influence on future negotiations, or produce immediate inconveniences, perhaps danger or mischief, in relation to other powers.


It doubtless is important, that all Treaties and Compacts formed by the United States with other nations, whether civilized or not, should be made with caution, and executed with fidelity.


Having been a member of the General Convention, and knowing the principles on which the Constitution was formed, I have ever entertained but one opinion on this subject; and, from the first establishment of the Government to this moment, my conduct has exemplified that opinion, that the power of making treaties is exclusively vested in the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, provided twothirds of the Senators present concur; and that every treaty, so made and promulgated, thenceforward became the law of the land.

It is thus that the treaty-making power has been understood by foreign nations; and, in all the treaties made with them, we have declared, and they have believed, that, when ratified by the President, with the

advice and consent of the Senate, they became obligatory.



The Constitution has assigned to the President the power of making treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate. It was doubtless supposed, that these two branches of Government would combine, without passion, and with the best means of information, those facts and principles, upon which the success of our foreign relations will always depend; that they ought not to substitute, for their own conviction, the opinions of others, or to seek truth through any channel but that of a temperate and well-informed investigation. 1795.


It is said to be the general understanding and practice of nations, as a check on the mistakes and indiscretions of ministers and commissioners, not to consider any treaty, negotiated and signed by such officers, as final and conclusive, until ratified by the Sovereign or Government from whom they derive their powers.


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