« AnteriorContinuar »
came to be fulfilled. Before he became minister of the United States, he offered his counsel to Louis XVI., in a sense directly antagonistic to the Revolution; and he afterwards sought to effect that monarch's escape. Such a man could not be acceptable to the revolutionary leaders; but he at any rate possessed an intimate knowledge of the conditions and tendencies of the time, and was not likely to commit his government to extravagant policies.
Early in 1793 a new minister was appointed by France to the United States. His name was Edmond C. Genêt. Of Morris he was in many respects the precise antithesis; for, while by no means destitute of experience, he was a turbulent champion of the new order of things. According to his own account, he was placed at the age of twelve years in the French Foreign Office, where, under the direction of his father, he translated into French a number of American political writings. After spending seven years at the head of a bureau at Versailles, under the direction of Vergennes, he passed one year at London, two years at Vienna, one at Berlin, and five in Russia. At St. Petersburg, however, he fell into difficulties. Because of some of his representations, which were pitched too high in the revolutionary scale, the Empress Catherine requested his recall, and, when it was refused, dismissed him. In reporting his departure for the United States, Morris observed that “the pompousness of this embassy could not but excite the attention of England." What it was that called forth this remark does not appear; but, whatever it may have been, there can be no doubt that Genêt set out on his mission gurgling with the fermentation of the new wine of the Revolution; and he had scarcely left France when Morris reported that the Executive Council had 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 April 18, 1793, before this report was received, Washington submitted to the various members of his cabinet a series of questions touching the relations between the United States and France. These questions were, first, whether a proclamation of neutrality should issue; second, whether a minister from the republic of France should be received; third, whether, if received, he should be received unconditionally or with qualifications; fourth, , whether the treaties previously made with France were to be considered as still in force. At a meeting of the cabinet, on April 19th, it was determined, with the concurrence of all the members, that a proclamation of neutrality should issue, and that the minister from the French Republic should be received. On the third question, Hamilton, who was Secretary of the Treasury, was supported by Knox, the Secretary of War, in the opinion that the reception should be qualified, while Washington, Jefferson, his Secretary of State, and Randolph, the Attorney-General, inclined to the opposite view; but the third and fourth questions were postponed for further consideration. In a subsequent written opinion Hamilton argued that the reception of Genêt should be qualified by an express reservation of the question whether the treaties were not to be deemed temporarily and provisionally suspended by reason of the radical change in conditions since they were formed. He also thought the war plainly offensive on the part of France, while the alliance was de fensive. On the other hand, Jefferson maintained that the treaties were not "between the United States and Louis Capet, but between the two nations of America and France," and that "the nations remaining in existence, though both of them have since changed their forms of government, the treaties are not annulled by these changes." He also contended that the reception of a minister had nothing to do with this question.
On April 22, 1793, Washington issued his famous proclamation of neutrality. On April 8th, just two weeks before, Genêt had arrived at Charleston, South Carolina; but the news of his presence there reached Philadelphia through the public press only on the day on which the proclamation was published. At Charleston he lost no time in fitting-out and commissioning privateers; and, after having got
22! April, 1793.
By the PRESIDENT of the United States of America.
HEREAS 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 toward 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 thole 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 turther
, 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 the Seal of the United States of
America to be affixed to these presents, and figned the same with my band.
By the President.
a number ready for sea, he proceeded 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.
The posture of affairs between the United States and France was complicated and difficult. By the treaty of commerce of 1778, the ships of war and privateers of the one country were entitled to enter the ports of the other with their prizes, without being subjected to any examination as to their lawfulness, while cruisers of the enemy were in like circumstances to be excluded, unless in case of stress of weather. By the treaty of alliance, the United States, as has been seen, had guaranteed to France her possessions in America. For the moment, however, the situation was much simplified by reason of the fact that the French Republic did not ask of the United States the execution of the territorial guarantee. This 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 had caused a scarcity in France both of money and of provisions. The United States, as a neutral, formed a source of supply of both. An intimation to this effect was made by the French government to Morris not long before the issuance of Washington's proclamation of