“The Defense No. I” the first Camillus essay

“The Defense No. I”

The first Camillus essay

[This post is intended to be another teaser for our pending Hamilton exhibition at Nova Southeastern University scheduled for March 17 – April 15.]

Hamilton’s Camillus essays defending Jay’s Treaty have been described as the Federalist papers for foreign policy. Recall that the highly unpopular Jay’s Treaty was one of the rallying cries for the emerging Democratic-Republican party, as Jefferson and Madison sought to distance themselves from Washington and the Federalist party. Here is a link to a prior post about Hamilton’s Camillus essays.

But have you ever read a Camillus essay from a newspaper printed in 1795? Now’s your chance. Camillus essays from 1795 will be displayed alongside a 1796 copy of Jay’s Treaty at the Nova exhibit.

Copied below is an excerpt of a speech delivered in 1957 by Senator Kennedy when accepting a Patriotism Award at Notre Dame University. In his speech, JFK describes Washington’s support for Jay’s Treaty as one of the most courageous acts of his presidency:

The cause for this change in the public’s affection was principally President Washington’s approval of the harshly unjust Jay Treaty with Great Britain. The treaty was denounced by an increasingly pro-French public opinion which resented America’s unwilling assistance to Britain in her war upon the French Revolution, and which was willing to fight if necessary.

But the choice which confronted President Washington was one of acceptance of an unjust, unpopular treaty or a war with Great Britain which his young and still weak country could not survive. In what may well have been his finest hour, in what may have served his country better than Valley Forge or the Philadelphia Convention, he chose to endure the abuse of his countrymen rather than risk needless danger for his country. He reluctantly submitted the Jay Treaty to the Senate, therefore, where it was approved without a single vote to spare.

As a result, Tom Paine told him that he was “treacherous in private friendship and a hypocrite in public . . . The world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or imposter; whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any.” Benjamin Franklin’s grandson declared that Washington was “inefficient . . . treacherous . . . and in search of personal incense . . . . If ever a nation was debauched by a man, the American nation has been debauched by Washington.”

Click here for a link to Kennedy’s full speech.

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