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and said that if the National Assembly expected the United States to declare their readiness to meet them on that ground, they would not hesitato to make such a declaration. In the mean time he desired that matters might be placed in their former condition, by the repeal of “the late innovations as to our ships, tobacco, and whale oil." He was anxious lest the postponement of a conventional arrangement might compel the United States to resort to retaliatory measures in order to do justice to their own navigation. On the 9th of July 1792 Morris proposed to the French Government the negotiation of a commercial treaty, and in so doing adverted to the discontent excited in America by the decrees of the Constituent Assembly. On the 23d of July he received a reply in which a promise was made that his proposal would be communicated to the King and to the National Assembly.3
On the 16th of August Morris announced that another Revolution of August
revolution had been effected in Paris, and that “it was
bloody."4 On the 10th of August the King was deposed, and the revolution progressed rapidly amid scenes of bloodshed and confusion. Morris asked for instructions respecting the conduct he should pursue “in the circumstances about to arise.” The present executive was, he said, just born, and might be stified in the cradle; and he found himself “in a state of contingent responsibility of the most delicate kind.” 5 Jefferson replied that it accorded with the principles of the United States “to acknowledge any government to be rightful which is formed by the will of the nation substantially declared;" that with such a government "every kind” of business might be done; but that there were matters" wbich might be transacted with a government de facto, such, for example, as to reform the unfriendly restrictions of our commerce and navigation.” Unless, said Jefferson, “the late innovations" were revoked the United States must lay additional and equivalent burdens on French ships by name.6
When Morris, on the 13th of February 1793, acknowlWar between France and
edged the receipt of these instructions, Louis XVI. had
been beheaded and war against England had been declared. “You had previously instructed me,” wrote Morris to Jefferson, "to endeavor to transfer the negotiation for a new treaty to America; and if the revolution of the 10th of August had not taken place, but instead thereof the needful power and confidence had been restored to the crown, I should perhaps have obtained what you wished, as a mark of favor and confidence. * At any rate, the thing you wished for is done, and you can treat in America, if you please. Whether you will or not is another affair.” In truth, Morris did not believe that the negotiation
"Jefferson to Morris, March 10, 1792, Jefferson's Works, ed. by Washington, III, 338.
2 Jefferson's Works, ed. by Washington, III. 356, 449.
could then be successfully conducted or that any engagements which might be formed would be stable.
The internal disorders of France were naturally reAppointment of Genet. flected in the management of her foreign relations,
Before the deposition of the King, Morris insisted upon and obtained the removal of a person who had been appointed as minister to the United States, a person whose character he pronounced “as bad as need be and stained by infamous vices,"1 When another minister was appointed, Morris did not receive from official sources any information “either of his mission or his errand.” This circumstance, however, was due perhaps not so much to Morris's interference with the former appointment as to the fact that he was, as he himself declared, cordially hated by some of the mernbers of the diplomatic committee. The new minister was M. Edmond C. Genet, a man of some experience, who might have been useful in subordinate positions, but who lacked the sense and discretion requisite to the discharge of a responsible part. He once spoke of himself as having spent seven years at the head of a bureau at Versailles, under the direction of Vergennes, and of having passed one year at London, two at Vienna, one at Berlin, and five in Russia. Morris reported, as the result of inquiries, that Genet was a man of good parts and very good education, brother to the Queen's first woman, from whence his fortune originated; that he was, through the Queen's influence, appointed as chargé d'affaires at St. Petersburg, where, in consequence of dispatches from M. de Montmorin, which were written in the sense of the revolution, but which he interpreted too literally, he made some representations in a much higher tone than was wished or expected; that as it was not convenient under the circumstances either to approve or to disapprove his conduct, his communications lay unnoticed; that, being a young man of ardent temper, he felt himself insulted, and wrote some petulant dispatches, believing that if the royal party prevailed his sister would make fair weather for him at court; that on the overthrow of the monarchy, these dispatches operated as credentials to the new government, and, in the dearth of competent men, opened the way to his preferment, and that in this situation he chose America as the best harbor during the storm, and would not put to sea again till it was fair weather.3
Before he left France Genet called on Morris and Genet's departure for
apologized for the failure of M. Le Brun, the minister the United States.
of foreign affairs, on account of the pressure of public business, to come and present him. What Genet subsequently did in France does not appear, but Morris, in reporting his departure for the United States, observed that “the pompousness of this embassy could not but excite the attention of England." Whatever it may have been that
1 Am. State Papers, For. Rel. I. 333. 2 Genet to Jefferson, November 15, 1793, Am. State Papers, For. Rel. I. 183.
3 Morris to Washington, December 28, 1792, Am. State Papers, For. Rel. I. 392.
* Morris to Jefferson, March 26, 1793, Am. State Papers, For. Rel. I. 356–358.
6 Am. State Papers, For. Rel. 1.350.
called forth this remark, there can be no doubt that Genet set out on his mission gorgling with the fermentation of the new wine of the revolution. Having attained “the happiness of serving a free people,” he seems to have resolved that nothing should be wanting to the energy of his conduct. And he had scarcely left France when Morris reported that the executive council bad sent out by him three hundred blank commissions for privateers to be distributed among such persons as might be willing to fit out vessels in the United States to prey on British commerce.'
On the 18th of April 1793, before this report was Question as to Genet's received, Washington submitted to the various memReception.
bers of his cabinet a series of questions touching the relations between the United States and France. The first of these questions was whother a proclamation of neutrality should issue; the second, whether a minister from the republic of France should be received; the third, whether, if received, it should be absolutely or with qualifications, and the fourth, whether the United States were obliged to consider the treaties previously made with France as still in force. It seems that the question whether Genet should be received was suggested by Hamilton at a meeting of the cabinet on the 25th of February, and that the President, the Secretary of State, and the Attorney-General at that time were all disposed to give an affirmative answer. At a meeting of the cabinet on the 19th of April it was determined, with the concurrence of all the members, that a proclamation of neutrality should issue. It was also unanimously agreed that the minister from the French republic should be received. On the third question, whether he should be received absoIntely or with qualifications, Hamilton was supported by Knox in the opinion that the reception should be qualified. The President, Jefferson, and Randolph inclined to the opposite opinion; but the third and fourth questions were postponed for further consideration. In a subsequent written opinion Hamilton argued that the reception of Genet should be qualified by a previous declaration to the effect that the United States reserved the question whether the treaties, by which the relations between the two countries were formed, were not to be deemed temporarily and provisionally suspended. He maintained that the United States had an option so to consider them, and would eventually have a right to renounce them, if such changes should take place as could bona fide be pronounced to make a continuance of the connections which resulted from them disadvantageous and dangerous. He also thought the war plainly offensive on the part of France, while the alliance was defensive. On the other hand, Jefferson maintained that the treaties were not "between the U. S. & Louis Capet, but between the two nations of America and France," and that “the nations remaining in existence, tho’ both of them have since changed their forms of government, the treaties are not annalled by these
Morris to Thomas Pinckney, March 2, 1792, Am. State Papers, For. Rel. I. 396; Morris to Jefferson, March 7, 1792, Id. 354.
Writings of Washington, ed. by Sparks, X. 533. 3 Jefferson's Works, ed. by Washington, IX. 140.
Hamilton's Works, ed. by Lodge, IV. 74–79. 5 Id. 101.
changes." He also contended that the reception of a minister had nothing to do with this question.?
On the 22d of April 1793, Washington published the Proclamation of
following proclamation of neutrality.” Neutrality.
“Whereas it appears that a state of war exists between Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, Great Britain, and the United Netherlands, of the one part, and France on the other, and the duty and interest of the United States require that they should with sincerity and good faith adopt and pursue a conduct friendly and impartial towards the belligerent Powers:
* i have therefore thought fit by these presents to declare the disposition of the United States to observe the conduct aforesaid towards those powers respectively; and to exhort and warn the citizens of the United States carefully to avoid all acts and proceedings whatsoever, which may in any manner tend to contravene such disposition.
“And I do hereby also make known, that whosoever of the citizens of the United States shall render himself liable to punishment or forfeiture under the law of nations, by committing, aiding, or abetting hostilities against any of the said powers, or by carrying to any of them those articles which are deemed contraband by the modern usage of nations, will not receive the protection of the United States, against such punishment or forfeiture; and further, that I have given instructions to those officers, to whom it belongs, to cause prosecutions to be instituted against all persons, who shall, within the cognizance of the courts of the United States, violate the law of nations, with respect to the powers at war, or any of them.
“In testimony whereof, I have caused tho seal of the United
States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the [L. 8.] same with my hand. Done at the city of Philadelphia, the twenty
second day of April, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the
seventeenth. “By the President:
“GEORGE WASHINGTON. “TH. JEFFERSON."
On the 8th of April 1793, just two weeks before the
issuance of this proclamation, Genet arrived at CharlesArrival.
ton, South Carolina; but the news of his arrival there was received at Philadelphia, through the medium of the public press, only on the day on which the proclamation was published. At Charleston be lost no time in fitting out and commissioning privateers, and, after having got a number ready for sea, he proceeded to make the journey to the seat of the national government by land. On the way he incited the people to hostility against Great Britain, and received such demonstrations of sympathy as to strengthen his confidence in the success of the course on which he had entered. Before he was received by the President it was learned by public report that the cruisers which he had fitted out had made captures and brought them into the ports of the United States, and that the French consuls had assumed judicial authority to condemn them and order their sale as lawful prize.
The posture of affairs between the United States and France's Position as to France at this time was peculiar. In spite of the acts Treaties of 1778.
of the National Assembly, of which Jefferson in his early instructions to Morris complained, and of the depredations on American commerce against which Morris was so constantly required to
Course of Genet on His
remonstrate, there is ample evidence that the French Government, at the ontbreak of the war with England, desired to consider the treaties with the United States of 1778 as still subsisting in full force. In a letter to Jefferson of February 13, 1793, Morris narrates an interview with Le Brun, the French minister of foreign affairs, just before the declaration of war with England. In the course of this interview Morris observed that Mr. Hammond, the British minister to the United States, doubtless would exert himself to inculcate the opinion that the treaty of alliance with France, having been made by the King, was rendered void by the revolution. Le Brun replied that “such an opinion was absurd.” Morris then observed, unofficially, that he entertained similar sentiments, but that he thought it would be well to evince "a degree of good will to America, which might prevent disagreeable impressions."! In a note of March 24, 1793, Morris, in complaining of the violences committed on American vessels by French privateers, invoked the provisions of the fifteenth article of the treaty of amity and commerce; and Le Brun, in his roply, expressed France's desire "of cementing more and more the connections of friendship and fraternity with her friends and allies, the United States.”? In the subsequent correspondence, as well as in the acts of the National Convention, the treaties of 1778 were continually referred to as binding engagements.3
Nevertheless, the French republic did not ask of the The Territorial
United States the execution of the territorial guaranty Guaranty.
of the treaty of alliauce. This fact may be accounted for by either of two reasons. The general arming of the whole population, and the exhanstive devotion of the resources of the country to military purposes, caused a scarcity in France both of money and of provisions. The United States, as a neutral, could form a source of supply of both. In a letter to Morris of March 29, 1793, Le Brun, referring to the alleged connivance of Americans and Englishmen in covering with the flag of the United States the nationality of English vessels, said: “In order to preserve to the citizens of the United States all the advantages which result from their neutrality, it is the interest of the American government to hinder this fraud.” 4
This was nearly a month before the issuance of Washington's proclamation of neutrality, and before the Government of the United States had actually determined upon the course which it would pursue. In a report to the Committee of Public Safety in June 1793 Le Brun, in discussing and insisting upon the importance of protecting American nentrality, said: “The United States become more and more the granary of France and her colonies; they manifest the most favorable dispositions of succoring us; and the courage which they have discovered in formally acknowledging the French republic, in spite of the menaces and intrigues of England, proves that their friendship for us is above all political or interested considerations."
1 Am. State Papers, For. Rel. I, 350.