THE year of 1802 dawned on a tranquil nation. So soothing had been the uttered words of the new President, so gradual and nibbling had been the changes in government, so still intact was the fundamental structure, so quietly and serenely had this alleged atheist and wild-eyed anarchist comported himself that the rank-and-file Federalists found nothing to arouse their fears and even the leaders were hard put to it to discover issues on which the tocsin might be sounded.
It has often been said that Jefferson was merely drifting. But he knew exactly what he was doing. He had to rid the country of the fear that a French type of revolution impended and to sever the Federalist leaders from their electoral support. He had to make haste slowly in bringing about the millennium. Yet he kept the eventual goal ever clearly in mind.
He realized that the Hamiltonian financial system had become so deeply imbedded and interpenetrated with the very structure of the government that it was now impossible to excise it. Willy-nilly, and in spite of theory, it had to be continued. He made his guiding principles clear to Dupont de Nemours, who had thought his Message too big for the nation, yet exhorted him to continue on his course like Socrates, Cato, Confucius, Marcus Aurelius-and Turgot.1
Jefferson explained his strategy to the enthusiastic French expatriate. "When this government was first established," he wrote, "it was possible to have kept it going on true principles, but the contracted, English, halflettered ideas of Hamilton, destroyed that hope in the bud. We can pay off his debt in 15. years: but we can never get rid of his financial system. It mortifies me to be strengthening principles which I deem radically vicious, but this vice is entailed on us by the first error. In other parts of our government I hope we shall be able by degrees to introduce sound principles and make them habitual. What is practicable must often controul what is pure theory: and the habits of the governed determine in a great degree what is practicable."2 So spoke the man who was supposed by his opponents to be a pure theoretician and dreamer.
Though he disliked the financial system-and particularly the Bank-he knew at least that he could in a measure control them, and make good out of evil. But the federal judiciary was another matter. Here was the stronghold into which federalism had retired; an entrenched position over which, by virtue of the Constitution, he had no power. "There," he remarked bitterly, "the remnants of federalism are to be preserved and fed from the