The XYZ Affair By: Phi Hoang & James Clark

In the mid 1790s, France started to become unsure about their alliance with America after Washington declared the Neutrality Proclamation. Their belief become more potent after they discovered that America established a treaty with their enemy, Great Britain, during this time period. This treaty was known as Jay's Treaty because John Jay was a representative sent by Washington to negotiate an agreement into stop the impressment of American sailors, among other things. France became even angrier because of Pinckney's treaty with Spain.

Jay's Treaty

Soon enough, French, along with Britain, began to impress American sailors into their navies because they were angry at the Americans for the treaties. Merchants and ship captains ended up without the people they just hired and were becoming angry as well. This then made the rest of the Americans angry after word spread, making them want to go to war with France. President Adams however, thought that having such conflicts would be a bad idea because they were a developing country and not ready for war. Instead he sent Elbridge Gerry, John Marshall, and Thomas Pinckney as diplomats to France to establish a meeting with Foreign Minister Talleyrand to resolve the problem.

When the three diplomats arrived, the French refused to talk with them. In response, they too sent three representatives of Tallyrand, simply known as X, Y, and Z to try and bribe the Americans. They offered conditions that the Americans could not pay in exchange for meeting with Talleyrand. For example, they demanded $250,000 just to meet with him. Eventually X, Y, and Z resorted to threaten America with a war if they didn't comply.

The American diplomats ended up returning without a treaty. This left John Adams disappointed with the French, saying: "I will never send another minister to France without assurance thst he will be recieved, respect, and honored, as the representative of a great, free, powerful, and independent nation."

John Adams

The Americans became furious and they trusted the French even less. The government started building warships and created the first American navy in case of war. In the end, America never went to war. However, from 1798-1800, American ships attacked French ships that harassed our trade vessels.

18th Century American Ship

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.