Periodically during his public life Gallatin toyed with the idea of retiring from politics. "Ambition, love of power, I never felt," he would tell Hannah, "and if vanity ever made one of the ingredients which impelled me to take an active part in public life, it has for many years altogether vanished away. . . . We must be settled and give up journeying." Understandably enough, such thoughts fascinated him most in election years, when it looked as if he might be hard pressed at the polls.1
The temptation to retire was especially strong during the summer of 1796. Word kept reaching him in Philadelphia that, despite his excellent account of himself in Congress Hall during the preceding winter, there was much dissatisfaction among his constituents with the stand he had taken on the Jay Treaty, the fact that he did not actually live in the district he represented, and the fact that his appearances in the western country had become briefer since his marriage.
He left Hannah, who was expecting a child, with the Nicholsons in New York and went to face his constituents in October. The abusive Federalist attacks on him had boomeranged. He was elected to a second term in Congress by the slightly reduced margin of 1,500 over the Federalist candidate.2
Relieved and secretly pleased, he lingered in the West several weeks to throw himself wholeheartedly into the November national election. Washington had declined to run for a third term; the Federalists, with considerable reluctance, had taken up John Adams for the Presidency, while the Democratic-Republicans backed Thomas Jefferson. As a member of the campaign committee for Pennsylvania, Gallatin labored diligently through correspondence and in person. The returns were rather encouraging. The Democratic-Republicans easily carried Fayette and the rest of the western country and captured thir