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Relations between USA and France (1798 -1801)

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  • Relations between USA and France (1798 -1801)

    Hello

    I am reading a book about the uniforms of soldiers of the United States from 1740 to 1900. In the chapter on the Marines, the author mentions a war between the USA and France in 1798-1801. He doesn’t develop it, only a short sentence. And i never heard anything on this war before.
    In this period France is monopolized by the end of the Revolution and the rise of Napoleon. In History book, the French authors speak for the most part about the events in Europe. So i don’t find information on this subject here.
    I knew the sale of Louisiana in 1803, but i thought this event was the only one between America and France. There was the revolt in Haďti too, but i don’t know if the USA was involved.

    Does someone possess infos on those events, this war, between France and USA in 1798-1801 ?

    La Palice.
    Monsieur de La Palice est mort
    Mort devant Pavie.
    Un quart d'heure avant sa mort
    Il était encore en vie...

  • #2
    This took place during the first Adam administration and was basically a short naval war between the United States and France. Known as the 'Quasi-war with France', the conflict bascially was caused by French privateers raiding American merchant ships.

    The war was pushed by Federalist such as Alexander Hamilton who wanted closer relations with England and were totally against the Revolution in France. It ended in 1801 but still there was a lot of privateering. Of course England also didn't respect the Americans right to the seas and the War of 1812 started for much of the same reasons.
    "There is no great genius without some touch of madness."

    Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD)

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    • #3
      The U.S. and France have always had a bizarre relationship. When the British colonies revolted against England in 1776 (sorry guys if I get America's independance year wrong, I think it is 1776), France supported the rebels militarily with its Navy I believe. Then you have this quasi-war later on. In WWII, France's defeat against Germany have always been a sore spot to French pride and after the war, France tried to re-establish its independence by upholding its colonial empire, to no avail since they lost Vietnam and Algeria in the 50s. Then De Gaulle decided to develop France's own nuclear shield, "la force de frappe" as the French call it. He also restricted its ties with NATO and has been a reluctant ally of the U.S. ever since, which has annoyed the White House quite a few times in the last decade.

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      • #4
        Thank you for the answers.

        I think i need to extend my search to the doctrines elaborates by the Americans for their international relationships, more exactly just after the birth of the United States until 1823.
        I find some very general infos in a book. Apparently Washington advocated the neutrality for America concerning the events in Europe during French Revolution and Empire. And if i’m not wrong, during this period the federal authorities had some difficulties to impose their power on the states.
        Those relations between USA and colonial powers in America in the end of the XVIIIth and the begining of the XIXth are interesting because they are certainly the foundations of the actual America’s internationnal policy. And they are a part of the construction of the United States too.

        About the quasi-war with France in 1798, were there some fights ?

        La Palice.
        Monsieur de La Palice est mort
        Mort devant Pavie.
        Un quart d'heure avant sa mort
        Il était encore en vie...

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        • #5
          There are two battles I can recall. One was a naval battle with Constellations with the French ship la Vengance. I think the website below have the date wrong though. I thought the engagement was fought on the 1st of February

          http://pc-78-120.udac.se:8001/WWW/Na.../800NC351.html

          The otehr engagement was an Naval expedition sent to the Carribeans (someone might be able to pinpoint the exact location) where the US sabotaged various French Naval assets.

          In total, the US captured somewhere between 70-80 French ships.
          "As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil that they set out to destroy."-Christopher Dawson - The Judgement of Nations, 1942

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          • #6
            Originally posted by LaPalice
            Thank you for the answers.

            I think i need to extend my search to the doctrines elaborates by the Americans for their international relationships, more exactly just after the birth of the United States until 1823.
            I find some very general infos in a book. Apparently Washington advocated the neutrality for America concerning the events in Europe during French Revolution and Empire. Those relations between USA and colonial powers in America in the end of the XVIIIth and the begining of the XIXth are interesting because they are certainly the foundations of the actual America’s internationnal policy. And they are a part of the construction of the United States too.
            America had had an isolationist foreign policy for most of its history. It is only since World War II that the U.S. has willingly committed itself to an important role in world affairs. Before World War II, the U.S. were interested only in Central and South America. I think it was called the Monroe doctrine (former U.S. president), which stated that the American continents were the U.S. "backyard". In short, Washington was saying to European powers: "don't touch American continents. You've got the rest of the world for you."

            After WWII, the U.S. immerged itself in the ideological fight between capitalism and communism and assumed the role of the "free world" leader, which provoked all kinds of foreign involvement of the U.S. all across the globe. But this is mostly recent history.

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            • #7
              The federal goverment had little power over the states during this period. It did make several accomplishments, included the defeat of the barbary pirates and the stopping of the french. The true bizzare part of the french incident involved 3 french agents who claimed to be named X,Y, and Z. The incident is now known as the XYZ affair. They offered the US a hefty bribe to support the empire. All we had wanted at this point was the ending of privateering. We toom offense, and attacks several ships. in the end we had twisted relations with france, similar to todays situation.
              Doesn't read Al Franken, can't watch Al Jazeera, will attack dumbasses. Anyone but Rumsfeld '04.

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              • #8
                Another time, thank you all for the infos, and for the link.

                Now i know some other things about the tumultuous Franco-American relations.

                About this quasi-war, i haven’t the impression that France was really involved in it, i mean officialy as in a real war. If that were privateers who attacked American ships, they did certainly for their own profit, with no letters of mark (sp ?) given by the French authorities. I don’t know what was the control exerted by the French over their Carabean possessions, but it’s possible that those islands were quasi-independent, with not many relations with France (those British ships…).
                And Napoleon hadn’t many interests for the colonies and what happened there, the price of Lousiana shows it.

                La Palice.
                Monsieur de La Palice est mort
                Mort devant Pavie.
                Un quart d'heure avant sa mort
                Il était encore en vie...

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