The Presidency of John Adams: The Collapse of Federalism, 1795-1800

By Stephen G. Kurtz | Go to book overview

12
The President and His Secretaries

HAMILTON HAD NO FORMAL PLANS WHEN HE RETIRED IN 1795, because he could not afford them. His friend William Heath of Virginia understood Hamilton's personal problem and rejoiced for his sake that he had retired. Heath had found that two and a half years of government service was enough to ruin any man. "It is a mortifying reflection," he wrote, "that ...the emoluments of office for the last 12 months have little more than defrayed the expense of it."1 According to Henry Lee, Hamilton had spoken of taking up private law practice again as an absolute necessity. His entire savings account of £3,000 had been spent trying to make up the difference between salary and living expenses. His death, Hamilton was reputed to have said, would have made his family completely dependent upon his father-in-law's generosity.2

The problems of a public servant of the United States at the time of its founding were well set forth by Hamilton in a letter that he wrote to a distant cousin a few months after he had quit his cabinet post. "Public office in this country has few attractions. The pecuniary emolument is so inconsiderable as to amount to a sacrifice to any man who can employ his time to advantage in any liberal profession." In addition, he said, there was such political animosity as to destroy constructive use of authority, and party struggles had grad-

____________________
1
Heath to Hamilton, July 6, 1794, Hamilton Papers, LC.
2
Joseph Jones to Madison, December 26, 1794, Madison Papers, LC.

-261-

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The Presidency of John Adams: The Collapse of Federalism, 1795-1800
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 13
  • Illustrations 15
  • 1 - Bright Hopes for Mr. Jefferson 19
  • 2 - The Republican Challenge 39
  • 3 - Popular Federalism 59
  • 4 - The Candidates of 1796 78
  • 5 - Adams and Hamilton 96
  • 6 - Imported and Domestic Designs for Victory 114
  • 7 - The States and the Presidency 145
  • 8 - A Political Revolution in Pennsylvania 177
  • 9 - Discontent with Hamilton 192
  • 10 - Adams and Jefferson: Friendship and Politics 209
  • 11 - The Patronage Crisis and the Decline In Federal Status 239
  • 12 - The President and His Secretaries 261
  • 13 - Political Consequences of the Xyz Papers 284
  • 15 - A Just and Politic Peace 334
  • 16 - Politics and Peace, 1799 354
  • 17 - Independence 374
  • Appendixes 409
  • Bibliography 417
  • Index 441
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