Great Britain’s Jay Treaty of 1794

During the late 1700s, France and Great Britain vied for power in Europe as well as in their relationship with the United States. Unhappy with the United States’ and Great Britain’s Jay Treaty of 1794, France reacted by seizing American ships in 1796. Outraged, U.S. President John Adams sent three envoys to France: Elbridge Gerry, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and John Marshall. Three Frenchmen met with the U.S. envoys and presented the French foreign minister’s conditions before he would see the Americans. Gerry, Pinckney, and Marshall balked as France demanded the U.S. provide a low-interest loan, assume and pay American merchant claims against the French, and pay a substantial bribe. As President Adams received the word, he prepared the country for war and released related correspondences, referencing the three French representatives as “X,” “Y,” and “Z.” The U.S. and France entered an unofficial “Quasi-War” until peace was negotiated at the Convention of 1800.

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