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Essex Junta, the.

The course of President John Adams, who was anxious for a renomination and election, caused a fatal schism in the Federal party. He looked to the Southern States as his chief hope in the coming election; and believing McHenry and Pickering, of his cabinet, to be unpopular there, he abruptly called upon them to resign. McHenry instantly complied, but Pickering refused, when Adams dismissed him with little ceremony. This event produced much excitement. Bitter animosities were engendered, and criminations and recriminations ensued. The open war in the Federal party was waged by a few leaders, several of whom lived in the maritime county of Essex, Mass., the early home of Pickering, and on that account the irritated President called his assailants and opposers the “Essex Junta.” He denounced them as slaves to British influence—some lured by monarchical proclivities and others by British gold. A pamphlet from the pen of Hamilton, whom Adams, in conversation, had denounced as a “British sympathizer,” damaged the President's political prospects materially. The Republicans rejoiced at the charge of British influence. Adams's course caused a great diminution of the Federal vote, and Jefferson was elected. The opposition chanted: [265]

The Federalists are down at last,
The Monarchists completely cast!
The Aristocrats are stripped of power—
Storms o'er the British faction lower.
Soon we Republicans shall see
Columbia's sons from bondage free.
Lord, how the Federalists will stare—
A Jefferson in Adams's chair!

The echo.

Early in 1809, John Quincy Adams, being in Washington attending the Supreme Court, in a confidential interview with President Jefferson, assured him that a continuation of the embargo (see embargo acts) much longer would certainly be met by forcible resistance in Massachusetts, supported by the legislature, and probably by the judiciary of the State; that if force should be resorted to to quell that resistance, it would produce a civil war, and in that event he had no doubt the leaders of the Federal party (referring to those of the old Essex Junta) would secure the co-operation of Great Britain. He declared that the object was, and had been for several years, a dissolution of the Union and the establishment of a separate confederacy. He knew from unequivocal evidence, not provable in a court of law, that in a case of civil war the aid of Great Britain to effect that purpose would be as surely resorted to as it would be indispensably necessary to the design. A rumor of such a design was alluded to, at about the same time, by De Witt Clinton, in New York, and in the Boston Patriot, a new administration paper, to which the Adamses, father and son, were contributors. Such a plot, if it ever existed, was confined to a few Federalist members of Congress, in consequence of the purchase of Louisiana. They had proposed to have a meeting in Boston, to which Hamilton was invited, though it was known that he was opposed to the scheme. The meeting was prevented by Hamilton's sudden and violent death. A series of articles signed “Falkland” had appeared in New England papers, in which it was argued that if Virginia, finding herself no longer able to control the national government, should secede and dissolve it, the Northern States, though thus deserted, might nevertheless be able to take care of themselves. There seem to have been no more treasonable designs among the members of the Essex Junta than in the Hartford convention (q. v.), and the designs of that body were known to have been patriotic.

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