Significance of Insignificance: Quasi-War
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The Quasi-War between the US and Revolutionay France.

The Quasi-War between the US and Revolutionay France.

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Significance of Insignificance: Quasi-War Document Transcript

  • 1. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA The Significance of Insignificance, the Quasi-War Between France and the United States, 1798-1801. Philadelphia, The Captain of the French privateer, taken a few days ago, seemed astonished when taken on board of Capt. Decatur’s sloop of war, at his being taken by an American vessel, and said he knew of no war between the two republics. Decatur observed that the French had been making war upon us for a long time, and it was now necessary for us to take care of ourselves. The Frenchman seemed to be vastly mortified at seeing his Colours hauled down, and wished he had been sunk. Decatur told him he should have been gratified if he had stood on board his vessel and fought her! The Columbian Centinel (Boston), July 14, 1798.1 The capture of the French privateer La Croyable by the U.S.S. Delaware, established the commencement of a Quasi-War between France and the United States. The Quasi-War, extending for nearly three years from 1798 to 1801, originated from the continued attacks and harassment made upon American shipping by the French government. Although this depredation was not exclusive to republican France, the French national Directory openly promoted the legality of such attacks in the hopes of achieving an easy victory. Responding to these attacks however, the United States established a navy and quashed the low risk-high return possibility for the French. This battle offers an illustration of the entire war. There were no great ship-of-the-lines, there were no Trafalgers, or even a Jutland, the conflicts consisted of limited engagements usually between American warships and armed merchant vessels against French privateers, however the Quasi-War proved to be significant in the histories of the United States, revolutionary France and Britain. 1 Newspaper account of the first battle of an American warship, the U. S. Ship Delaware, and a French vessel, La Croyable, on July 7, 1798. Department of the Navy. Office of Naval Records and Library. Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War Between the United States and France. Washington D. C., 1935, I, 176. Hereafter cited as Quasi-War. 1|P age
  • 2. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA The United States Navy’s history reflects a story of evolution. The origins of the American Navy began in the adoption of colonial navies wishing to protect individual coastlines.2 Later, when the colonies began to cry for independence, the Continental Congress acted upon the Rhode Island naval resolution to establish a Marine Committee to oversee American naval affairs.3 The proposition for the Continental Congress to create a navy required careful and prudent debate on what would be its goals. The geographic configuration of the eastern seaboard with all of its’ accessible rivers and bays necessitated the importance of retaining the possession of these marine highways. This would prevent division and isolation by British naval forces. The delegates agreed that the purpose of the Continental Navy could never be to match the superiority of the British Navy,4 but to seize the British merchant and military shipping as a legitimate source of military supplies.5 Throughout the Revolutionary War the Continental Navy served as a minor support mechanism and relied heavily on the state navies and the armed merchants.6 After the American victory, the newly created United States presented an ineffectual and weak government.7 The British retained control of the western frontier forts and the government of Spain forbid the use of the Mississippi River as a water highway. These foreign restrictions created a western barrier that constricted 2 Charles O. Paullin. The Navy of the American Revolution. Chicago, 1906, Chapters 11-17. 3 In the diary of John Adams, the topic is first broached on 7 October 1775, with delegate Chase calling the idea of an American navy as “the maddest Idea in the World,” and stressing the necessity of defending Hudson River instead, while Gadsden, against the grandness of the Rhode Island proposal, believed that it was “absolutely necessary that some Plan of Defense by Sea be adopted.” Smith, Paul. ed. Letters of the Delegates to Congress. Washington D. C., 1977, II, 130-131. 4 Paullin, 153-8. 5 Paullin, 147-53. 6 Robert Wilden Neeser. ed. Statistical and Chronological History of the United States Navy, 1775-1907. 2. New York, 1909, II, 1; and Edgar Stanton Maclay, A History of American Privateers, Freeport, Reprint, New York, 1970, 206-7. 2|P age
  • 3. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA American growth. Another threat to American sovereignty and growth came from the Barbary Powers. These Mediterranean city-states began to attack American naval commerce shortly after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. The maritime commerce of the United States no longer enjoyed the protection of the either the British Navy or a navy of it’s own and America had dismantled and sold off the Continental navy.8 These threats assisted in the drive for a Federal Constitution. The supporters of the Constitution in 1788, used the idea of a navy as a rallying point. In the Federalist Papers, six specifically dealt with the advantages of a permanent navy. Alexander Hamilton promoted a Federal Navy as a source of international respect.9 David Ramsey, seeking support in Charleston, South Carolina told southerners that the new Constitution would protect their coasts from invasion and promote favorable commercial treaties. He suggested that a Federal navy would open the West Indies to American trade and, “Give life to your expiring commerce.”10 In the North the Constitution’s advocates illustrated the commercial benefits to those who stayed home. A Federalist article entitled, On the Economic advantages of Union: Providence will be another Antwerp, Newport another Brest, suggested to New Englanders that an established navy would bring commerce to those ports stationing the navy.11 7 In the Confederation a navy was treated as a militia unit. The naval force would be called up and then disbanded when the threat passed. Articles of Confederation, Article 6. Charles Tansill, Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States. Washington D. C., 29-30. 8 William Malloy, Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols and Agreements Between the United States of America and other Powers, 1776-1909. I, 586-589; and Marshall Smelser, Congress Founds the Navy. Notre Dame, Indiana, 1959, 5; and Neeser, II, 3. 9 The papers which refer to the establishment of a navy are numbered III,V,XI,XX,XII, and XL. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The Federalist Papers. Washington, 1901, XI, 71. 10 David Ramsay, Columbian Herald, February 4 1788. 11 “Phocion”, United States Chronicle, July 17 1788. 3|P age
  • 4. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA The placement of the subsection that allowed for the establishment of the navy created much of the debate against the navy and the Constitution. The Anti-Federalists used the structure of the Constitution with its placement of subsections establishing the navy and granting Congress the right to levy taxes in their arguments.12 Patrick Henry argued that the creation of a navy and the taxation which would support it contradicts the goals of freedom, for ‘“If you be in constant preparation for war, on such airy and imaginary grounds, as the mere possibility of danger, your government must be military, 13 which will be inconsistent with the enjoyment of liberty.” Another Anti-Federalist, Luther Martin, also believed that the military established by the Constitution would pose a threat to liberty. He wrote that the military could be used to establish the office of an American king.14 These arguments reflected a fear of over taxation and military subservience. A precedent for their argument can be found approximately one hundred and fifty years earlier in England. King Charles I in 1635, denied more income by Parliament, reinstated a naval charge dating back to the reign of Alfred the Great in the ninth century. The regularity of these writs of shipmonies caused them to be seen as a royal tax issued without the consent of Parliament and was finally found unlawful.15 This type of power to use vague laws supported the argument of Luther Martin and the Anti-Federalists that the military established by the Constitution could pose a threat to liberty. 12 U. S. Constitution, article 1, section 8. 13 Bernard Bailyn, The Debater on the Constitution. Washington D. C., 1977, 623-636. 14 Luther Martin, “The Genuine Information”, Maryland Gazette, January 29,1788. 15 Four writs of shipmonies were issued from 1635 to 1639. F.C. Montague, The Political History of England, London, 1907, VII, 178-242; and Winston S. Churchill, A History of the English Speaking Peoples. New York, 1956, II, 197. 4|P age
  • 5. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA Although the Federalist succeeded with the adoption of the Constitution and the election of their candidate, George Washington, in the first presidential election, they could not pass the legislation to create the navy. Washington and the new Federal government faced several international crises during his two terms as President. The constriction of American growth and trade beyond the Appalachians was solved by treaties with Britain and Spain. The Treaty of Amity and Commerce or Jay’s Treaty attempted to resolve the occupation of the western territories by the British and the compensation of American shipowners for seized vessels in the West Indies. The Treaty’s unpopular interpretation by the American public deprived Jay from the credit he earned. America entered the negotiation with poor standings and though not all Federalist goals were achieved, Jay negotiated a special commission, made up of five members, to handle appeals of condemnations of American vessels. Through this commission American merchants were able to recover over ten million dollars for their seized vessels.16 The Treaty of Friendship, Boundaries, Commerce and Navigation with Spain or the Pinckney’s Treaty resolved the southwestern boundaries and allowed Americans navigation rights on the Mississippi.17 Together these treaties solidified the western frontier for Washington’s government. In the Mediterranean the lack of a navy resurfaced when the Dey of Algiers and the Bey of Tripoli declared war on American shipping in 1794. Americans began to rethink the policy of 1785 to pay tribute rather than establishing a navy. The third Congress passed an act requesting the building of six frigates to defend American 16 Malloy, I, 586-589; and Bemis, 103; and Timothy Pitkin’s statistical tables regarding the special appeal court. Cited in, Anna Clauder, American Commerce as Affected by the Wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon. Philadelphia, 32-38. 5|P age
  • 6. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA interests. This act stipulated that in the case of a peace settlement the building program would be canceled.18 The vote proved difficult despite the continued loss of American merchant ships and the imprisonment of American sailors. In 1796, the United States halted the building of the six frigates and resumed the tribute.19 The Franco-American relationship deteriorated after the Revolutionary War. The alliance against Britain no longer suited the independent United States. America had deserted her Revolutionary War ally and benefactor to reestablish her trade with Britain. France’s own revolution caused a strong desire for neutrality in the United States and created confusion on where the Franco-American treaties stood. This left France, at odds with Britain and suffering from poor harvests, to view the actions of America as hostile.20 In the Spring of 1793, the new French Minister Edmond Genet deliberately arrived in Charleston, South Carolina with its French influence rather than the national capitol in Philadelphia. Jefferson and the other Republicans supported him and the French cause to the President. Genet soon alienated the Americans sympathetic to the French Revolution however, by his deliberate use of America’s neutrality. Genet initiated a privateer shipbuilding program in the United States and enlisted American crews to serve under the French flag. He also schemed against Spanish influence in North America. He issued several commissions to American frontier leaders to organize attacks on Spanish territories in Florida and Mississippi. 21 17 Malloy, II, 1640-1649; and Bemis, 104-106. 18 Annals of Congress, IV, 1426. 19 Treaty with Algiers. Mallory, I, 1; and Treaty with Tripoli. Mallory, II, 1785-1786. 20 Clauder, 28; and Bemis, 106-109. 21 Gardner Allen, Our Naval War with France. Boston, 1909, 3-15; and George White. Statistics of the State of Georgia. Savannah. 1849, 187; and Bemis, 96-97. 6|P age
  • 7. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA Angered by the misuse of American neutrality and his involvement into domestic affairs, Washington sought to expel Genet as French Minister. The French government solved the dilemma by recalling Genet. Future French Ministers to the United States continued this type of intrigue however and within two years, Adet suggested to Paris that with French ownership of Louisiana, pressure could be applied to the American government.22 Although the situation in Europe provided a market for American goods, the trade routes were blocked by French degrees. The Jay Treaty had increased the tension between the two nations. The treaty between the United States and Britain appeared to violate the previous Franco-American treaties of friendship and commerce. In reaction to the treaty, France and the West Indies French colonial departments issued several degrees from 1794 to 1797 that allowed neutral vessels to be searched and confiscated. These legalized confiscation of American vessels and cargoes retarded the growth of American commerce. By the end of Washington’s second term over 300 cases of attacks upon American shipping occurred. 23 (See figure 1) Toward the end of his second term, Washington warned Congress of the deteriorating relations with France and that American trade, “Was suffering extensive injuries in the West Indies from the cruisers and agents of the French republic.”24 In his farewell address he stressed the unifying cause of liberty that bound all Americans and 22 Bruce French. Banking and Insurance in New Jersey: A History. New York, 1965, 16. 23 Quasi-War, I, 1-4 and 219; and Clauder, 42-44. 24 James D. Richardson. ed. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents. New York, 1895, I, 210; and Augusta, The Augusta Chronicle and Gazette of the State, 11 February, 1797. 7|P age
  • 8. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA the importance of national sovereignty, identity and of the combined interest of one nation.25 In his inaugural address on 2 March 1797, John Adams reaffirmed Washington’s vision of independent sovereignty. He said, “If that solitary suffrage can be obtained by foreign nations by flattery or menaces, by fraud or violence, terror, intrigue, or venality, the Government may not be the choice of the American people, but of foreign nations.”26 The implication of avoiding European alliances struck both the pro-French Republicans and the pro-English Federalists. The Republicans, desiring a peaceful resolution, and the Federalists, desiring a quick resolution, welcomed the address. Both parties found a solution that would fit their goals.27 In May of 1797, Adams called a special session of Congress to deal with the French crisis. He asked for a three man diplomatic mission to be sent to France to improve relations. The Congress approved the mission and agreed to limited military preparations. The American envoys, Gerry, Marshall, and Pinckney were instructed to seek compensation for the American losses in commerce.28 The delegation arrived in Paris in October but found that they could not perform their duties. French Foreign Minister Tallyrand refused to receive them. While the delegation waited, agents of the French government represented themselves as friends of Tallyrand. They demanded a bribe of $250,000 and a loan to France as a condition for the talks to begin. The reply of Pinckney, “No! No! Not a sixpence!” later inspired the 25 Richardson, I, 214-218. 26 Richardson, I, 220. 27 Smelser, 103. 28 Quasi-War, I, 1-4 and 6. 8|P age
  • 9. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA popular Quasi-War rallying cry, “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.”29 The delegation remained in France until the following March. In March of 1798, Marshall and Pinckney left Paris blocked and frustrated from negotiation. Gerry remained behind in the hope that his presence might avert a war. In Philadelphia the delegation’s correspondence finally arrived and informed the President of the affair. On the nineteenth, Adams informed the Congress the terms given to the American envoys. The news of the XYZ affair brought joy to the Federalists and a sense of political crisis for the pro-French Republicans.30 The French government actions resulted in a flurry of naval bills from the indignant Congress. The United States was careful not to declare war. The Federalist Congress passed legislation which severed the commercial trade with France, established the Department of the Navy, created the Marine Corps, increased the size of the Army, licensed private ships to serve as armed merchant vessels, completed the frigates of 1794, and financed new ships to be purchased, leased, or built. Each of these acts was carefully worded to prevent the inference of a declaration of war.31 The details of the first battle of the Quasi-War with France would illustrate the scope of the half-war itself. Captain Stephen Decatur assumed command of the Delaware, on the fifteenth of June 1798, with orders to quickly prepare the ship for a three-month cruise.32 On the seventh of July, the Delaware encountered the merchant ship Alexander Hamilton, making a run from New York to Baltimore. Her captain 29 Bemis 116-117. 30 Smelser, 117; and Alexander DeConde. The Quasi-War; the Politics and Diplomacy of the Undeclared War with France, 1797-1801. New York, 1966, 95. 31 These Acts are located in the index of volume 1 under Congress. Quasi-War, 1; and Smelser, 134. 32 .Quasi-War, I, 116. 9|P age
  • 10. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA informed Decatur of the presence of a French privateer in the area and the course the French vessel steered after she plundered the Alexander Hamilton.33 The Delaware made sail to the estimated area and sighted four schooners. Decatur, not knowing which vessel to follow, mimicked a merchant ship and feigned to flee before armed vessels. This ruse succeeded to draw the French privateer, La Croyable, toward the fleeing Delaware. As La Croyable approached the Delaware, the French captain mistook her to be an armed British sloop-of-war and sought refuge in the “neutral” coastal waters of the United States. The spider had become the fly. As the captain of the French vessel fled from the Delaware, Decatur narrowed his distance between the ships and the coast and fired one gun, which prompted La Croyable to surrender.34 The capture of the French privateer by the Delaware caused celebrations throughout Philadelphia. Editor William Cobbet of Philadelphia’s Porcupine’s Gazette proclaimed that the bells of the city were rung not for La Croyable, with its small number 35 of men and guns, but for the “Beginning of the good work.” The Republican editor Benjamin Franklin Bache, of the Philadelphia Aurora, questioned the national celebrations of this capture with his characterization of the event as, “The taking of a French schooner after a desperate action of one gun.”36 The Quasi-War, up to early February 1799, depended on American warships either catching small French privateers or escorting lumbering merchant ships on the convoy runs. This changed on the ninth of February. That day the U. S. Frigate 33 Letter from John Hollins, owner of the Alexander Hamilton, to the Secretary of the Navy requesting guidance in order to recover property taken by La Croyable. Quasi-War, I, 177. 34 The “Columbian Centinel (Boston)” newspaper account of the event, cited in, Quasi-War, I, 175-6; and Extract from letter to Rufus King, London, from Secretary of State, 9 July 1798, Quasi-War, I, 175. 35 Philadelphia Porcupine’s Gazette, 9 July, 1798. 10 | P a g e
  • 11. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA Constellation, one of the original ships of the act of 1794, sighted sails and headed straight for the unknown ship. On approaching the ship, American colors appeared and Captain Thomas Truxton made the private signal of that day which the unknown ship failed to answer. He then attempted the British private signal, which brought no immediate response. Shortly the ship raised the French flag and fired a gun toward the Constellation. Truxton maneuvered the ship into a position to use all of his batteries to their utmost and within an hour of the commencement of the battle the French warship L’Insurgente struck her colors with her main topmast gone, with twenty-nine killed, and forty-one wounded. The Constellation positioned herself, as a result of this battle, as the first American naval warship to capture another warship in the established navy.37 The Constellation’s crew suffered only one fatality and three wounded.38 The American reaction proved quick. Balls and fetes were thrown in the honor of Captain Truxton and the Constellation. Poems were rapidly written which were more patriotic than poetic. They covered the bravery of the sailors and made jeers at the Republicans who voted against the naval programs. These poems strengthened the national pride and image toward the Quasi-War and later were republished during the War of 1812 to rebuild national pride and confidence.39 36 Philadelphia Aurora, 10 July, 1798. 37 Letter to the Secretary of the Navy from Captain Thomas Truxton. Quasi-War. II, 326-7; and Extracts from Captain Thomas Truxton’s journal, Sunday 10 February 1799. Quasi-War. II, 328. 38 Lieutenant Andrew Sterrett, of the Constellation, wrote his brother that he caused the fatality by killing a coward sailor. Quasi-War, I, 326-7; and Extract of Captain Truxton’s journal which only reported that a fatality had occurred during the battle. Quasi-War. II, 326-7. 39 The poem entitled Truxton’s Victory or Brave Yankee Boys, originally written in 1799, was reprinted during the War of 1812. Robert Wilden Neeser. American Naval Songs and Ballads. New Haven, 1938, 56; and The Launch, written around 1798. Neeser. 54; and Ye Sons of Columbia, written around 1798. Burton Egbert Stevenson. Poems of American History. Boston, 1908, 278; and Adams and Liberty, written in the summer of 1798. Augusta Chronicle and Gazette of the State, 14 July, 1798. (see appendix) 11 | P a g e
  • 12. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA As the half-war advanced, the United States Navy steadily increased in size and strength as ships were completed or purchased. The goal of the captain and crew of the warship and the armed merchant was to sweep the Caribbean for signs of privateers and prize money. Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddart suggested to the President in June of 1799, the general views of his captains. They believed that the Navy should move away from the convoy service and sail in European waters.40 Although the President liked the idea of striking in European water, he believed the solution would be found in the control and protection of the waters off the West Indies. Adams suggested that quick small draft vessels be purchased and employed to work with the frigates to pursue the “French pirates in among their rocks and shoals to their utter destruction.”41 The war soon proved to be an offensive commercial war. The number of captured French vessels by American warships and armed merchant vessels doubled from 1798 to 1799. (See figure 2) Before Decatur’s action, the confiscation of cargoes and condemnation of ships had increased the premium percentage for American registered vessels. These losses caused marine insurance companies and their stockholders to suffer. The rate of dividends to the stockholders of the North American Insurance Company dropped after 1797. In June of 1798 the dividends were forced to be suspended due to increased loss.42 Lloyd’s of London viewed the actions of the French against the Americans, as much a problem to Lloyd’s itself as well as the American merchants. The company’s 40 Letter to Adams from Benjamin Stoddart, Secretary of the Navy, Quasi-War, III, 399-400. 41 Adams, IX, 9. 42 Marquis James. Biography of a Business, 1792-1942: Insurance Company of North America. New York, 1942, 65. 12 | P a g e
  • 13. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA correspondence records the high amount of capture and condemnation of American vessels on the island of Guadeloupe, in the West Indies.43 The presence of the new American frigates and the routine and protection of the convoy both gave confidence to the shippers and companies who insured them. Stephen Girard, who insured his own vessels first and then began a small insurance business in Philadelphia, insured the ship Good Friends with a discounted rate on the condition that she sail in the new convoy system to Havana.44 After the organization of convoys and the presence of American warships the insurance premiums decreased. (See figure 3) An intriguing revelation came to the attention of the United States Attorney in Rhode Island, concerning one of the French Island officials and marine insurance. The unnamed official participated in the condemnations of ships on Guadeloupe and had connections in the profitable privateering business. It was rumored that he was attempting to establish an insurance firm in Baltimore that would insure American shipping with a promise that these ships would not be condemned.45 The government realized the futility of attempting to stop the legally sanctioned actions taken on the island. Instead, the focus was directed to collect evidence of captured American vessels to build a political argument for the envoys responsible to negotiate a treaty with France. Secretary of State Pickering acknowledged to a ship owner that there was little the government could do for the condemnation of his schooner. He 43 The court proceedings citations for the eighty American vessels can be found in Lloyd’s List number 28, dated March of 1797. Charles Wright, A History of Lloyd’s: from the Founding of Lloyd’s Coffee House to the Present Day, London, 1928, 181-2; and Extract of letter from St. Martin’s. Quasi-War, I, 106. 44 Harold Edgar Gillingham. Marine Insurance in Philadelphia, 1721 - 1800. Philadelphia, 1933, 101-2; and Quasi-War, I, 77 and 220. 45 Letter from U. S. Attorney David Barnes to the Secretary of State, Quasi-War, I, 274-5. 13 | P a g e
  • 14. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA wrote that his lost will serve the government to prove the number of the “piracies” of the French Government.46 The negotiations for peace continued to advance, now under the First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte, who participated in the successful revolution of the 18th Brumaire, rewarding him with this position. He appointed three commissioners to negotiate with the Americans. This collection of American and French negotiators found no easy solution to the other’s expectations. The French desired to retain the language of the established treaties and convention and their interpretations of them, especially as related to the Jay Treaty. The Americans argued that the French violated these acts and required a new treaty and compensation for the damage inflicted on American commerce. France however could not agree to this financial arrangement because of the inability to pay the indemnities and the United States did not want to commit to the previous treaties. This difficulty of non agreement lead to the Convention of Peace, Commerce and Navigation, concluded 30 September 1800, with the solution of suspending the former treaties and any claims made to them.47 The acceptance of the treaty by the American and French commissions did not immediately end the Quasi-War. President Adams submitted to the United States Senate the treaty for ratification on 15 December 1800. The divided and pouting Federalists rallied enough support to reject the treaty and delayed the ratification for a year.48 Although America prepared for the relaxation that peace brings, the result differed from 46 Letter from the Secretary of State to John Norris, Quasi-War, I, 333. 47 Malloy, I, 497; and Bemis, 125. 48 Message from President Adams to the Senate of the United States, 15 December 1800. Quasi-War. VII, 33; and Notes concerning the ratification of the treaty. Quasi-War. VII, 33; and This convention, proclaimed 21 December 1801, ceased the hostilities.; Malloy, I, 497; and Bemis, 125. 14 | P a g e
  • 15. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA the past conflicts of America. The Secretary of the Navy began the slow process of recalling the vessels and Navy Agents in the West Indies to make provisions for a smaller permanent peacetime navy. 49 In conclusion, the Quasi-War, which consisted of insignificant combatants meeting in insignificant battles, resulted in significant changes in the governments of the United States, France, and Great Britain. Although the Federalist Party would fade away, due to their overbearing style and internal division, their long desire for a Federal Navy materialized. Once established, the United States Navy achieved their successes through limited engagements and the establishment of a convoy system which reopened the seas to American commerce, reduced the loss of American commerce and reduced the high insurance rates given to American vessels.50 The Directory of revolutionary France fell in the second year of what had become an undeclared war. The Quasi-War failed to support their policies with goods and propaganda. The absence of high returns from the Quasi- War, the emergence of the Second Coalition, and the string of failed expeditions to Egypt and Ireland assisted in their overthrow. The future British naval forces of the War of 1812 were forced to face an inferior but an established and popular United States Navy. This new and victorious United States Navy of the Quasi-War gave its people, from Georgia to upstate Massachusetts and inland to Tennessee and Kentucky, a source of national pride and added to the growing myth of American invincibility. 49 Letter of the Secretary of the Navy. Quasi-War, VII, 111; and An Act Making Appropriations for the Navy of the United States for the Year 1801. Quasi-War, VII, 138 and 313; and Letters to Naval Agents. Quasi-War, VII, 153 and 156. 50 Data from charts. Seybert. 318-319; and Clauder. 25-6. 15 | P a g e
  • 16. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA Figure 1 Waterborne Merchandise Exports, Waterborne Merchandise Imports, 1790-1801 1790-1801 Foreign Vessels U.S. Vessels Total of Exports Foreign Vessels U.S. Vessels Total of Imports 100 120 100 80 80 60 60 40 40 20 20 0 Millions 0 Millions 1790 1792 1794 1796 1798 1800 1790 1792 1794 1796 1798 1800 Years Years 51 Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970 Figure 2 Captures By American Vessels 1801 Armed Man of Armed 1800 Merchant War Merchant 1799 1801 4 0 1798 Man of 1800 60 5 War 1799 28 5 0 20 40 60 1798 3 4 52 Quasi-War 51 U.S. Department of Commerce. Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, 2 vols. Washington D.C., 1975, I,761. This source was deliberately chosen due to inaccuracies found in the charts of Seybert and the limited information included in Samuel Blodget’s, Economica: A Statistical Manual for the United States of America. These charts reflect the general trends of commerce and support the information above. 52 James F. Cooper. The Naval History of the United States. Philadelphia, 1840, I, 285; and Quasi-War, VII, 372 and 439. 16 | P a g e
  • 17. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA Figure 3 Insurance Premiums Percentage as Affected by the Appearance of U.S. Warships Previous Percentage Post Percentage Countries Outward Homeward Outward Homeward Africa 20 20 12.5 12.5 China and East Indies 20 15 10 10 Denmark 17.5 17.5 10 10 Great Britain 17.5 17.5 10 10 Holland 20 17.5 15 12.5 Italy 27.5 27.5 17.5 17.5 Morocco 20 20 12.5 12.5 Portugal 15 15 10 10 Russia 22.5 22.5 12.5 12.5 Sweden 20 12.5 12.5 12.5 West Indies 17.5 17.5 12.5 12.5 “The Quasi-War with France”53 53 Sargent, 11. 17 | P a g e
  • 18. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA Appendix A Ye Sons of Columbia 1 5 Ye sons of Columbia, unite in the cause The EAGLES OF FREEDOM with rapture behold, Of Liberty, justice, religion, and laws; Overshadowed our land with his plumage of gold Should foes then invade us, to battle we’ll hie, The floodgates of glory are open on high, For the GOD OF OUR FOREFATHERS will be our ally! And Warren and Mercer descend form the sky! Let the Frenchmen advance, They came from above And all Europe join France, With a message of love, Designing our conquest and plunder; To bid us be firm and decided; United and free, “At Liberty’s call, Forever we’ll be, Unite one and all, And our cannon shall tell them in thunder, For you conquer, unless you’re divided. That foes to our freedom we’ll ever defy, Unite, and the foes to your freedom defy, Till the continent sinks, and the ocean is dry. Till the continent sinks, and the ocean is dry. 2 6 When Britain assailed us, undaunted we stood, “Americans, seek no occasion for war; Defended the land we had purchased with blood, The rude deeds of rapine still ever abhor: Our liberty won, and it shall be our boast, But if in defense of your rights you should arm, If the old world united should menace our coast:- Let toils ne’er discourage, nor danger alarm. Should millions invade, For foes to your peace, In terror arrayed, Will ever increase, Our liberties bid us surrender, If freedom and fame you should barter, Our country they’d find, Let those rights be yours, With bayonets lin’d, While nature endures, And Washington here to defend her, For OMNIPOTENCE gave you the charter!” For foes to our freedom we’ll ever defy, Then foes to our freedom we’ll ever defy, Till the continent sinks, and the ocean is dry. Till the continent sinks, and the ocean is dry. 3 Should Buonapart come with his sans culotte band, And a new sort of freedom we don’t understand, And make us an offer to give as much As France has bestow’d on the Swiss and the Dutch, His fraud and his force Will be futile of course; We wish for no Frenchified Freedom: If folks beyond the sea Are to bid us be free, We’ll send for them when we shall need’em. But sans culotte Frenchmen we’ll ever defy, Till the continent sinks, and the ocean is dry. 4 We’re anxious that Peace may continue her reign, We cherish the virtues which sport in her train; Our hearts ever melt, when the fatherless sigh, And we shiver at Horrour’s funereal cry! But still, though we prize That child of the skies, We’ll never like slaves be accosted In a war of defence Our means are immense, And we’ll fight till our all is exhausted: For foes to our freedom we’ll ever defy, Till the continent sinks, and the ocean is dry. By Thomas Green Fessenden, (July, 1798) 18 | P a g e
  • 19. Norman Crandell – 1997 Consortium on Revolutionary Europe – Baton Rouge, LA Appendix B Appendix C The Launch Truxton’s Victory or Brave Yankee Boys Ye sons of Columbia, your ardour display, Come all you Yankee sailors with swords and pikes advance, With true Federal Spirit, on this joyful day; ‘Tis time to tag your courage and humble haughty France, When the Merrimack, inspeed is bending her course, The sons of France our seas invade, The Trade of Columbia, to protect by main force. Destroy our commerce and our trade, ‘Tis time the reck’ning should be paid, Let the Federal mirth be seen in each face, To brave Yankee boys. No Jacobin or Traitor your company disgrace; But show your dislike to such characters as these, On board the Constellation from Baltimore we came, And tell them they’re welcome to the Fraternal Squeeze. We had a bold commander and Truxton was his name, Our ship she mounted forty guns, See the Eagle assuming her right for to reign, And on the main so swiftly runs; Her wings on a flutter, those rights to maintain; To prove to France Columbia’s, While commerce denotes the pursuits we explore- Are brave Yankee boys. The Seas of the World from America’s Shores. We sailed to the West Indies in order to annoy, See Justice, the guide by which we’ll maintain, The invaders of our commerce to burn, sink and destroy; Our Rights on the land and our Claim on the Main- Our Constellation shone so bright, By Justice we make all our actions to square, The Frenchmen could not beare the sight, Whether Peace be our fortune, or destiny-War. An away they scampered away in fright, From brave Yankee boys. With Barry and Nicholson, and brave Captain Brown, We’ve nothing to fear from Tallyrand’s frown; ‘Twas on the 9th of February at Montserat we lay, His millions demanded-we’ll pay in scroll, And there we spy’d the L’Insurgente just at the break of day; Well tinctur’d with Powder, and displayed by a Ball. We rais’d the orange and the blue, To see if they our signal knew, Let the French and the Dutch, their own contracts attend, The Constellation and the crew, And Tallyrand with Rescriptions his associates befriend; Of our brave Yankees boys. While Adams and Washington stand at the helm, We’ll mind our own business, and leave their’s to them. Then all hands were call’d to quarters while we pursu’d the chase With well prim’d guns, our tompions out and well splic’d To confide in the wisdom of patriots thus try’d, the main brace, (Tho the French and all Europe, their victories deride) Then soon to France we did draw nigh, Is the duty of all, whose wish is to share, Compell’d to fight, they were or fly, A right in the glory of Columbia so fair. These words were pass’d “Conquer of Die,” My brave Yankee boys. The Directory of France, with all their deceit, May sound false alarms-our spirits to defeat; Loud our cannons thunder’d, with peals tremendous roar, Still we’ve men at the helm, who with wisdom can sail; And death upon our bullit wings that drench’d their decks in gore. And track them in Council, as well as in the field. The blood did from their scuppers run, Their chief exclaimed, “We are undone,” Our Constitution and Laws, by our fathers design’d, Their flag they struck, the battle we won, To render us happy-and useful and kind; By brave Yankee boys. We’ll freely support-with our lives estates, Without hesitation or lengthy debates. Then to St. Kitts we steered, we briught her safe in port, The grand salute was fired and answered from the Fort; By three captur’d Frenchmen, safe lodg’d on our shores, Now sitting round the flowing bowl, Dome pence is recover’d to replenish our store; With haughty glee each jovial soul, Two million besides have been robbed from our land, Drink as you fought without control, We’ll make them to tremble, and refund cash in hand. My brave Yankee boys. No peace with such robbers, ‘till down on their knees, Now here’s health to Truxton who did not fear the sight, They beg of our pardon-and pay for the Squeeze; And all these Yankee sailors who for their country fight, ‘Till all their proud hearts are melted as one, John Adams in full bumbers toast, And promise us treble for mischief they’ve done. George Washington, Columbia’s boast, And now to the girls that we love most, And now my brave freinds, let’s each one unite, My brave Yankee boys. In wishing the Merrimack a sure and quick flight; From cradle to that element-design’d for her station, To bravely oppse the proud foes of our Nation. (1799 or later, this poem was reprinted (1798 or later) in 1814 by Nathanial Coverly, a publisher in Boston) 19 | P a g e