Wednesday, 7 July 2021


On this day in 1798, the United States Congress re-established the new country’s naval and marine forces and authorised the use of deadly force against France, by proxy for the most part in colonies in the Caribbean, which America had agreed to help protect from the British and the Dutch in perpetuity in gratitude for French assistance in securing independence. Against the backdrop of France’s own revolution, there was theoretical public support for the republican cause and political reform for their ally domestically but practically, America preferred to maintain a neutral stance that would allow the northern industrial states to continue trade with Britain which would otherwise be subject to embargo (see also) and the southern agricultural states did not care for the message that France was sending with ending the institution of chattel slavery. Negotiations fell apart—in what’s known as the XYZ Affair—and the US stopped payments on loans to France that had been used to finance their revolt and French privateers began to seize merchant vessels in American waters in retaliation. With minimal casualties but considerable American resources expropriated and lasting loss of export revenue, there was a cessation to the violence with the Convention of 1800 (the Treaty of Mortefontaine) status quo ante bellum.