IN THE OPENING CHAPTER of his nine-volume History of the United States during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and fames Madison, Henry Adams sketched the following imaginary scene as a kind of symbolic picture of his elaborate analysis of the state of American society and politics in 1800:

A government capable of sketching a magnificent plan, and willing to give only a half-hearted pledge for its fulfilment; a people eager to advertise a vast undertaking beyond their present powers, which when completed would become an object of jealousy and fear—this was the impression made upon the traveller who visited Washington in 1800, and mused among the un-raised columns of the Capitol upon the destiny of the United States. 1