America’s First Foreign Policy Dilemma

College of Political Knowledge

I studied international relations in college and along with that I took several courses about the history of American foreign policy.

I thought I would try to get back into the swing of posting on our foreign policy history while the country prepares for the election in November.

After the War and the country coming together to form the United States of America what was the first dilemma the country had to face with our foreign policy….what did Washington do?

The first problem has been called the “Citizen Genet Affair”.

During 1793 and 1794, a series of explosive controversies divided followers of Hamilton and Jefferson. Washington’s administration confronted a French effort to entangle the United States in its war with England, armed rebellion in western Pennsylvania, Indian resistance, and the threat of war with Britain. These controversies intensified party spirit and increased voting along party lines in Congress.

In April 1793, “Citizen” Edmond Charles Genet (1763-1834), a French minister, arrived in the United States and passed out letters authorizing Americans to attack British commercial vessels and Spanish New Orleans. Washington regarded these actions as a clear violation of American neutrality and demanded that France recall its minister. The Genet affair did have an important effect–it intensified party feeling. From Vermont to South Carolina citizens organized Democratic-Republican clubs to celebrate the triumphs of the French Revolution. Hamilton and his supporters suspected that these societies really existed to stir up grass-roots opposition to the Washington administration.

American foreign policy in the 1790s was dominated by the events surrounding the French Revolution. Following the overthrow of the monarchy in 1792, the revolutionary French Government clashed with the monarchies of Spain and Great Britain. French policymakers needed the United States to help defend France’s colonies in the Caribbean – either as a neutral supplier or as a military ally, and so they dispatched Edmond Charles Genêt, an experienced diplomat, as minister to the United States. The French assigned Genêt several additional duties: to obtain advance payments on debts that the U.S. owed to France, to negotiate a commercial treaty between the United States and France, and to implement portions of the 1778 Franco-American treaty which allowed attacks on British merchant shipping using ships based in American ports. Genêt’s attempt to carry out his instructions would bring him into direct conflict with the U.S. Government.

https://history.state.gov/milestones/1784-1800/citizen-genet

Just a small note:  The State Department use to keep a data file with updates to our foreign policies and its history…..under the Obama admin it was decided to stop keeping the historical record….a shame in my opinion for it was an excellent source.

Here is the notice…..

This publication, “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations,” has been retired. The text remains online for reference purposes, but it is no longer being maintained or expanded.

Why retire “Milestones”? In mid-2016 the Office of the Historian completed a review of its online offerings and concluded that extensive resources would be needed to revise and expand this publication to meet the Office’s standards for accuracy and comprehensiveness. At the same time, the events described in the “Milestones” essays are amply covered by numerous respected secondary sources. Rather than duplicate these efforts, the Office of the Historian has decided to focus its resources on areas where it is uniquely suited to make a contribution, such as coverage of the Department of State’s institutional history. In keeping with the publication’s new status, it can now be found under “More Resources” in the site-wide menu.

Notice posted on May 9, 2017.

Learn Stuff!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

2 thoughts on “America’s First Foreign Policy Dilemma

  1. I agree that no longer keeping the records is a loss to history. But it also makes me suspicious as to the real reason for doing so.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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