« PreviousContinue »
CONVENTION OF 1800 WITH FRANCE.
Jefferson elected again to France De la Luzerne is succeeded by de
Moustier-Morris succeeds Jefferson and Ternan de MoustierFrench Revolution embarrassing to Government-Perplexing question whether a Minister should be received from the French Republic -Mr. Genet-Death of the King-Less enthusiasm for the Revolution-Very difficult Negotiation with Genet—His demands examined --Munroe goes to France-Government solicit the recal of Genet-Dismissed—Is succeeded by Fauchet--More temperate—Adet succeeds Fauchet-Outrage on Fauchet—France extremely dissatisfied with state of things~-Jay's treaty—Pinckney succeeds Munroe-Not received by the Directory--Ordered to leave France-Extraordinary proceeding—Pinckney, Marshall, and Gerry appointed--Not received, though cards of hospitality sent them—W. Y. 2.-Talleyrand proposes to treat with one Commissioner only-Rejected— Pinckney and Marshall leave France Gerry remains-Hostilities -Talleyrand brings on, by means of Pichon, another NegotiationEllsworth, Murray, and Davie appointed to France-Properly received—First Consul-Convention-Bonaparte desirous of Peace.
In October '87, Mr. Jefferson was again elected minister to
M. de La Luzerne, having obtained from his court permission to return, the Count de Moustier was appointed by His Christian Majesty to succeed him. The latter gentleman arrived in America in '88, and had the usual audience with Congress in February of the same year. M. de Moustier* was the last envoy sent by Louis XVI. to this country, and the first French minister recognized by the Federal Government. He remained till 1790. Gouverneur Morris of NewJersey succeeded Mr. Jefferson in the early part of the year '92, and Colonel Ternant, the Count de Moustier, both as Ministers Plenipotentiary.
The Federal Government, just after its organization, was embarrassed by a very difficult and perplexing negotiation. America had scarcely achieved its own independence when revolution began in France. A very strong and universal sympathy was immediately awakened in the people of the United States. The great æras of that revolution were celebrated in this country by civic feasts, where the red cap of liberty was passed from head to head, -the well-known airs of Ca ira, Les Marseillais and La Carmagnole were sung in the theatres, streets, and on public occasions—the tri-coloured cockade was worn by most of the citizens—the “taking of the Bastille," the “declaration of the rights of man,” and “the citizen,” the “abolition of feudal rights” and of “honorary distinctions,” the “confederation of the French, "--were commemorated with the roasting of oxen, and other tokens of joy. In the language of the day, the American people were disposed to “ fraternize” with the French nation. At the moment of the greatest exaltation and most heated state of the public mind, a war broke out between France and England; and though actual hostilities were first committed by the French, the conduct of Great Britain was viewed with deep sensibility and almost general indignation in America.
* M. de Moustier was still living in 1820, near Versailles. He has been conspicuous for his attachment to the royal family. In 1792 he left France, and did not return till 1814.
We find this name in the Moniteur (A. 1. No. 66) written, Ternant,
In the course of this business there arose a question of unusual delicacy and difficulty : not only whether a minister should be received at all from the French Republic, but whether he should be received unconditionally. It was the first time these questions had been submitted to the consideration of the administration, and they were now presented under circumstances of peculiar embarrassment. The government was, itself, hardly established, before it was under the necessity of deciding upon the claims of a new state, erected from the ruins of one of the most powerful nations of Europe. No one doubted but that the ancient government of the Bourbons was for the moment overthrown in France, the king was in the Temple, a state prisoner, the noblesse and clergy had emigrated, the army was disorganized and succeeded by the national guard, the Austrians and Prussians had either been expelled, or had retired beyond the Rhine, and the National Convention, having met in September 1792, decreed the abolition of royalty and the foundation of the Republic. It was quite obvious, that the progress of the Revolution had been regular and systematic. The crimes and bloody deeds of that period do not admit of defence, but they were susceptible, at the time, of an explanation. No great and sudden changes in a highly civilized condition of society take place without violence; and when every sort of govern
: ment, every description of police or authority was obliterated, atrocities could not excite much astonishment in a city of the size of Paris, already too well known in history by one of the bloodiest transactions of which we have any record. The death of the King, whatever feelings of horror and indignation it might awaken, was considered by many as a political event; even indeed by those eminent men, whose proceedings
; in the Old Jewry have only been rescued, by the eloquence of Mr. Burke, from that common and vast grave, into which the numberless writings and dissertations on the French Revolution have fallen. It was one more sacrifice, as Louis often said himself, to the Revolution. Every step, bloody as
they certainly were, the French people seemed to gain something on the score of liberty. Through the different stages of the States General, the union of the three orders, the National Constituent Assembly, the Legislative Assembly, and the National Convention, when the Republic was decreed, the freedom of the citizen was apparently making a conquest over the oppressions and abuses of the ancient monarchy. It seems, therefore, just to remark, that if the Republic was not established, at least the monarchy was overthrown. There was, also, a strong feeling of confidence in America that the Revolution would succeed; not only, because it was the general and most ardent hope and wish of the people, but the complete success of their own undertaking naturally led them to believe, that the efforts of a nation in the same cause would be attended with results equally fortunate.
We find that the Cabinet determined with an unanimous voice to receive the French Minister, but a difference of opinion appears to have existed, as it respects the conditions with which this act should be accompanied. Louis XVI. had personally been a constant and great friend and benefactor to America. His portrait and that of the queen, a present to the Congress of the Confederation, for a long time hung in a conspicuous place in the hall of that assembly. The first celebrated treaty of alliance and commerce had been concluded and signed in his name, and by his ministers, and the Republic, whose representative now presented himself to the notice of the people and the administration, was founded in the blood and on the wrecks of the Bourbon family. At the same time, the royal government was, still, nominally in existence. It was recognized by all the principal powers of Europe ; and was exercised by a regency at Coblentz on the Rhine, in the name of Louis XVI., while he lived, and at his death, the Dauphin, his son, then a prisoner in the Temple, was immediately proclaimed by the title of Louis XVII. A civil war, limited in extent, though remarkably destructive of life, also raged with uncommon fury in the Bocage or La Vendée.
This was the situation of things. The Republic was in possession of the authority and of the territory belonging to the French nation; and the probability was slight, indeed, that the royal government could be restored. It was, therefore, by no means a departure from the laws of nations to receive the French Minister; and this the President resolved to do, without any qualifying or explanatory act. Louis XIV., by acknowledging the Pretender, gave great offence to the EngJish Government; and it was alleged to be one of the principal causes of the war that England declared at the time against France. The subject of recognizing new governments has been a vast deal discussed, but no precise rules have been laid down for the regulation of states in this particular. Writers place, perhaps, more stress upon the circumstance of actual possession than any other. Foreign nations have obviously no right to interfere in the domestic concerns of other countries; but when one party is obviously in possession of the power and territory, the neutral state is fully warranted in acknowledging it. And if the first party should be finally overthrown and expelled, the successful one would not have just cause of complaint against the neutral. The reason of this rule is apparent. It is highly desirable that the intercourse of civilized nations should be maintained, and the impropriety, nay, the impossibility of the case precludes a close investigation into the domestic affairs of foreign states.
Mr. Genet, appointed by the Executive Council Minister to the United States, in January, 1793, arrived in this country, in April of the same year, in the Ambuscade frigate. He landed in Charleston, South Carolina, and was received with marks of respect, attention and enthusiasm. While at Charleston, Mr. Genet authorized different persons to fit and arm vessels, to enlist men in that port,--and gave commissions to cruise, and commit hostilities upon nations, with whom the United States were at peace, the port of Charleston being particularly convenient for the purpose of molesting the English West India trade. Captures, made by those vessels, were