A Quasi-War and Self-Sacrifice
Adams’ Foreign Policy A Quasi-War and Self-Sacrifice
Great Britain continues to be a problem
A war between Great Britain and France, which begun when Washington was President, is still being fought. Jay’s Treaty, ratified by Congress during Washington’s Presidency, failed to secure American neutral shipping. As American merchant ships tried to trade with France, the British navy would seize the cargo and impress American sailors. Hamilton and the High Federalists which control Congress urge no action to be taken. (So does the “ghost” of Washington)
France becomes a bigger problem
The French were upset with the United States because: The US broke the Alliance of 1777 Adams recalls, pro-french ambassador, James Monroe and replaces him with pro-British, Federalist Charles Pinckney. Jay’s Treaty is seen as pro-british (not neutrality) By mid-1797, the French have captured 300 ships and over 5,000 sailors impressed. High Federalists in Congress are calling for a declaration of war. From , US and French fight a “Quasi-war” naval war (mostly in the Caribbean).
The “XYZ” Affair Instead of declaring war, Adams sends diplomats to France to negotiate a peaceful end to these tensions. Adams sends John Marshall, Charles Pinckney and Elbridge Gerry (Three High Federalists) to Paris. Before they could see Foreign Minister Tallyrand, the Americans meet with three unnamed French officials. The officials demand a bribe (250,000) and the promise of loans (millions) just to see Tallyrand. John Marshall loses it --- “No, no not a sixpence!”
Reaction to the “XYZ” Affair
The American public is outraged at the insult. High Federalist used public anger to: 1) Spend “millions for defense, not one penny in tribute” 2) Navy is created with orders for new warships 3) Marine Corps is created 4) Army increased in size to 10,000 men Public appeared to support the larger debt and higher taxes. The Federalist won more seats in Congress in the elections.
The High Federalists take advantage
Capitalizing on public sentiment, the Federalists pushed three laws through Congress: 1) The Naturalization Act – increased the time it took for an immigrant to become a naturalized citizen from 5 to 14 years. 2) Alien Act - allowed the President to deport “dangerous” aliens (foreigners) without trial. 3) Sedition Act – labeled public opinions that were critical or damaging to the government as “seditious” and punishable by law. Were these laws Constitutional? How were they political?
Two wrongs not make a right . . .
Jefferson and the Republicans look to the states to fight the Alien and Sedition Acts: Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions Public statements made by state legislatures of KY and VA that oppose Alien and Sedition acts as unconstitutional. (drafted by Jefferson and Madison) Claimed states could “nullify” unconstitutional federal laws because it would be considered as a broken “contract” between central and state governments. This is known as the Compact Theory. Is this Constitutional?
By 1800, a war with France seemed unavoidable. The American public paid for it and expected it to happen. The Federalist Party (and Adams) would have greatly benefited from a war. Adams, remembering Washington’s concerns, took a last- minute opportunity from France to negotiate a peace. The Convention of 1800: 1) Franco-American Alliance officially ended 2) France paid for damaged US ships and returned sailors. 3) War is averted!
The Election of 1800
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