The appointment of American ministers to the different foreign courts was in progress, as Mr. Short had said, and, on January 12th, Mr. Morris, after a stormy debate in the Senate, was chosen Minister to France by a majority of only five votes out of sixteen. He was told of his appointment by Mr. Constable in February and, shortly after, received the official notice of it under the seal of the Secretary of State. Although Mr. Jefferson had differed radically from Mr. Morris in his opinion concerning the French Revolution, knowing him as he did, he could not but affirm both officially and personally so wise a choice.
The President’s indorsement of Mr. Morris was even more hearty, and, indeed, ’twas hinted by Mr. Morris’s enemies that Washington’s open approval of him had alone saved him from defeat. But though the President was of the opinion that Mr. Morris was the best possible choice for the difficult post of Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States to France, he was also entirely aware of those traits of character which, his opponents urged, rendered him unsuited for the place. His impetuosity, occasional haughtiness, and close connection with the aristocratic party, were disabilities undoubtedly, but the President was convinced that they were far more than counterbalanced by his force of character, mental keenness, and wide knowledge of French affairs, and so wrote Mr. Morris in one of the kindest letters that great man ever penned. This letter Mr. Morris received in the spirit in which it was written, and, being already involved in a secret affair, of which, as minister, he should not even have known, much less been engaged in, he determined to withdraw himself