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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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9200. X. Y. Z. PLOT, Federalists and.—
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9200. X. Y. Z. PLOT, Federalists and.—

When Pinckney, Marshall, and Dana were nominated
to settle our differences with France, it
was suspected by many, from what was understood
of their dispositions, that their mission
would not result in a settlement of differences,
but would produce circumstances tending to
widen the breach, and to provoke our citizens
to consent to a war with that nation, and union
with England. Dana's resignation and your
appointment gave the first gleam of hope of a
peaceable issue to the mission. For it was believed
that you were sincerely disposed to accommodation;
and it was not long after your
arrival there, before symptoms were observed
of that difference of views which had been
suspected to exist. In the meantime, however,
the aspect of our government towards the
French Republic had become so ardent,
that the people of America generally took the
alarm. To the southward, their apprehensions
were early excited. In the eastern States also,
they at length began to break out. Meetings
were held in many of your towns, and addresses
to the government agreed on in opposition to
war. The example was spreading like a wildfire.
Other meetings were called in other
places, and a general concurrence of sentiment
against the apparent inclinations of the government
was imminent; when, most critically for
the government, the [X. Y. Z.] despatches of
October 22d, prepared by your colleague Marshall,
with a view to their being made public,
dropped into their laps. It was truly a godsend
to them, and they made the most of it. Many
thousands of copies were printed and dispersed
gratis, at the public expense; and the zealots
for war cooperated so heartily, that there were
instances of single individuals who printed and
dispersed ten or twelve thousand copies at their
own expense. The odiousness of the corruption
supposed in those papers excited a general
and high indignation among the people. Unexperienced
in such maneuvres, they did not
permit themselves even to suspect that the


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turpitude of private swindlers might mingle itself
unobserved, and give its own hue to the
communications of the French government, of
whose participation there was neither proof nor
probability. It served, however, for a time, the
purpose intended. The people, in many places,
gave a loose to the expressions of their warm
indignation, and of their honest preference of
war to dishonor. The fever was long and successfully
kept up, and in the meantime, war
measures as ardently crowded. Still, however,
as it was known that your colleagues were coming
away, and yourself to stay, though disclaiming
a separate power to conclude a treaty, it
was hoped by the lovers of peace, that a project
of treaty would have been prepared, ad
on principles which would have
satisfied our citizens, and overawed any bias of
the government towards a different policy. But
the expedition of the Sophia, and, as was supposed,
the suggestions of the person charged
with your dispatches, and his probable misrepresentations
of the real wishes of the American
people, prevented these hopes. They had then
only to look forward to your return for such
information, either through the Executive, or
from yourself, as might present to our view the
other side of the medal. The despatches of
October 22d, 1797, had presented one face.
That information, to a certain degree, is now
received, and the public will see from your
correspondence with Talleyrand, that France,
as you testify, “was sincere and anxious to
obtain a reconciliation, not wishing us to break
the British treaty, but only to give her equivalent
stipulations; and in general was disposed
to a liberal treaty”. And they will judge
whether Mr. Pickering's report shows an inflexible
determination to believe no declarations
the French government can make, nor any opinion
which you, judging on the spot and from
actual view, can give of their sincerity, and to
meet their designs of peace with operations of
To Elbridge Gerry. Washington ed. iv, 270. Ford ed., vii, 330.
(Pa., Jan. 1799)