The Quasi-War

Essay by joshparselsCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2009

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The Quasi-War was an undeclared war fought between The United States and France between 1798 and 1800. Four years before the war started, the United States had negotiated Jay's Treaty with Britain to settle growing hostilities and to open a new commercial treaty . Meanwhile, with a conflict brewing between Britain and France, the revolutionaries of France saw Jay's Treaty as a direct violation of the 1787 Treaty of Paris and relations between the United States and France quickly deteriorated. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry arrived in Paris in 1797 to negotiate with France, but Prince Talleyrand, the French diplomat, demanded a loan and bribe before negotiations would even begin. When word of this reached John Adams back in The United States, he sent an outraged message to Congress urging preparations for war.

The country was split however of how to respond to Frances' insult and citizens pledged themselves to the Federalist and the Jeffersonian parties way of thinking.

The Federalists were advocates of a strong central government and made up of wealthy land-owners primarily from the northeast. More importantly however, they were pro-British and supported the idea of declaring war on France. The Jeffersonian Party, sometimes referred to as the Democratic-Republican Party, was a political entity established to oppose the Federalists' economic and foreign policies by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in 1792. They advocated strong state governments as well as a small national army. The Jeffersonians were supporters of good-relations with France and greatly distrusted relations with Britain.

The Federalist and Jeffersonians had clear opposing views on how to deal with the increasing tension between the two countries. Jefferson and the Jeffersonians wanted to negotiate a free-maritime trade and to cease attacks on merchant vessels. They proposed an embargo on France and would allow...