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  American HistoryUnited States: General History and DescriptionRevolution to the Civil War, 1775/1783-1861Constitutional Period, 1789-1809George Washington's Administration, 1789-1797
Citizen GenetGenet being entertained by the American publicEdmond Charles Genet

[zhuh neh'] French minister to the United States

"Citizen Genet," as he came to be called by the American public, arrived at Charleston, South Carolina on April 8, 1793, with instructions from the French government to enlist American help in France's war against Great Britain. It took him 28 days to make his way to Philadelphia, then the seat of the federal government. Along the way he was wined and dined by some of the most distinguished citizens of the day, including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He also attempted to persuade American citizens to organize expeditions against Spanish Florida and tried to commission privateers to harass British ships off American shores. Although he was coolly received officially, he was eagerly entertained by the American people, a vast number of whom supported Genet's ambitions.

When President George Washington issued, in 1793, a proclamation of neutrality, stating that America would not involve itself in the war, Genet condemned Washington and dispatched the privateers. Washington finally asked the French government to recall Genet, and he was replaced in 1794. Afraid he would be executed if he returned to France, Genet instead moved to Long Island, New York, and later married the daughter of New York Governor George Clinton. He subsequently became an American citizen.

Charleston, South Carolina
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
President George Washington
George Clinton

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  The Robinson Library > American History > United States: General History and Description > Revolution to the Civil War, 1775/1783-1861 > Constitutional Period, 1789-1809 > George Washington's Administration, 1789-1797

This page was last updated on March 11, 2015.

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