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could then be saccessfully conducted or that any ongagements 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."? 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 members 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
o 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."5 Whatever it may have been that
* The that the
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1 Am. State Papers, For. Rel. I. 333.
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.
6Am. 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 shonld be wanting to the energy of his conduct. Aud he had scarcely left France when Morris reported that the executive council had sent out by bim 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 mem
Reception. bers of his cabinet a series of questions touching the relations between the United States and France. The first of these questions was whether 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 shonld 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.3 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 absolutely 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 provisioually 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. & Lonis 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 annulled by these
Morris to Thomas Pinckney, March 2, 1792, Am. State Papers, For. Rel. I. 396; Morris to Jefferson, March 7, 1792, Id. 354.
2 Writings of Washington, ed. by Sparks, X. 533.
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
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 bel. ligerent Powers:
"î have therefore thought fit by these presents to declare the disposi. tion 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 ofticers. to whom it belongs, to cause prosecutions to be institutea ag
se prosecutions to be instituted against all persone, 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 the seal of the United
States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the [L. 8.] same with my hand. Dove 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 Course of Genet on His
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 cominissioning 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
1 Jefferson's Works, ed. by Ford, VI, 219, 220.
remonstrate, there is ample evidence that the French Government, at the outbreak 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 esert 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."1 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 reply, expressed France's desire “of cementing more and more the connections of friendship and fraternity with her friends and allies, the United States.”? In tbe subsequent correspondence, as well as in the acts of the National Convention, the treaties of 1778 were continually referred to as binding engagements,
Nevertheless, the French republic did not ask of the The Territorial
* United States the execution of the territorial guaranty Guaranty.
of the treaty of alliance. This fact may be accounted for by either of two reasons. The general arming of the whole population, and the exhaustive 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." +
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." 6
1 Am. State Papers, For. Rel. I. 350.
Id, 358, 359, 361.
On February 18 and March 26, 1793, decrees were adopted by the National Convention putting American vessels on the same footing as French vessels in French ports.
But there may be yet another reason why the United States were not called upon to execute the territorial guaranty of the treaty of alliance. It is not improbable that the National Assembly, while balancing the advantages of Americau neutrality against those of the treaty of alliance, doubted whether the guaranty was precisely applicable to the conditions then existing. It is true that war with England had broken out, but it is also true that it was an incident of the general conflict in which France was then engaged with other powers of Europe. This idea is suggested in the original instructions to Genet, which, though they were given before the conflict with England began, were written in contemplation of hostilities with that country as well as with Spain; and these instructions were directed to the formation of a new commercial and political connection with the United States, adapted to the conditions which the French revolution had produced. Genet was instructed that the treaty which he was authorized to negotiate, might assume the form of a national agreement, in which two great peoples shall suspend their commercial and political interests, and establish a mutual understanding to defend the empire of liberty, wherever it can be embraced; to guarantee the sovereignty of the people, and punish those powers who still keep up an exclnsive colonial and commercial system, by declaring that their vessels shall not be received in the ports of the contracting parties. * * * However vast this project may be,” continued the instructions, “it will not be difficult to execute, if the Americans determine on it; and it is to con. vince them of its practicability that the Citizen Genet must direct all his attention; for, besides the advantages which humanity in general will draw from the success of such a negotiation, we have at this moment a particular interest in taking steps to act efficaciously against England and Spain, if, as everything announces, these powers attack us from hatred of our principles * * *. The military preparations making in Great Britain become every day more and more serious, and have an intimate connection with those of Spain. The friendship which reigns between the ministers of the last power and those of St. James' proves it; and in this situation of affairs we ought to excite by all possible means the zeal of the Americans, who are as much interested as ourselves in disconcerting the destructive projects of George III. in which they are probably an object. * * * As it is possible, however, that the false representations which have been made to Congress of the situation of our internal affairs, of the state of our maritime force, of our finances, and especially of the storms with which we are threatened, may make her ministers, in the negotiations which the Citizen Genet is entrusted to open, adopt a timid and wavering conduct, the executive council charges him, in expectation that the American government will finally determine to make common cause with us, to take such steps as will appear to hiin exigencies may require, to serve the cause of liberty and the freedom of the people."? Nor were these the only objects of Genet's mission, the full purposes of which
1 Am. State Papers, For, Rel. I. 362-363.