Nonetheless, Jefferson concluded that the House was an equal partner in the proceedings concerning the Jay Treaty; if Jefferson had his way, there would have been the kind of gridlock/inaction that he had decried from afar while in France. Hearings on the House took place in the Fall/Winter of 1795 under Madison’s direction as well as his more narrow interpretation of the Constitution. Madison argued that the House was involved in the ratification of the Jay Treaty in terms of funding. Madison was able to block the treaty while avoiding a frontal assault on the Executive branch. As 1796 dawned, Madison’s bloc of opposition to the Jay Treaty in the House looked to be beyond-solid, but James Madison soon discovered that anyone that went head to head with Washington was bound to lose.
As early as 1790, Jefferson believed that the Revolution as he understood it had been hijacked by hostile forces from within, and the chief enemy was the Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Initially, Jefferson didn’t see Washington as being anything other than a Colonel Blake (MASH) that wondered what was happening around him, and Jefferson also knew that Washington was untouchable in terms of criticism. But all that changed with the Whiskey Rebellion (1794), where a federal law was enforced for the first time. Jefferson believed that Hamilton had taken over the Executive and that Washington had become senile.
Washington wanted to accomplish three things with his Farewell Address. First, he wanted to demonstrate that he was still very much in charge and nowhere near senile. Second, he wanted to chart a middle course in order to push his critics to the fringes of the ongoing debate over what the Revolution meant. Third, Washington, the master of grand exits, wanted to explain what the Revolution really meant, especially coming together as an increasingly unified nation (much like how the Continental Army hung in there during the Revolutionary War).
Reactions to his Farewell Address in public was overwhelmingly positive, with much tearful exuberance, missing the man but embracing his message. Republican newspapers that were a mouthpiece for Jefferson dismissed it as the “loathings of a sick mind”. Washington’s last years at Mount Vernon were spent knowing he was right, but he was also apprehensive that his wisdom would be ignored. Part of Washington’s problem was that his beloved Mount Vernon was located in Virginia, which was the headquarters for Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and the Republicans . . . in effect, Mount Vernon was an enclave in enemy territory.