I have therefore considered it appropriate, by these gifts, to declare that the United States is prepared to observe the aforesaid conduct towards these Powers, and to urge and warn carefully the citizens of the United States to avoid all actions and procedures which in any way tend to contravene this provision. Deeply concerned about Genet`s contagious popularity and his direct appeals to the American people to help the France, and unsure of the limits of his own constitutional powers, Washington convened his cabinet on April 19, 1793, to seek advice. Despite some disagreements between Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton on other related matters, the four cabinet members unanimously agreed that the president could and should issue a statement reaffirming U.S. neutrality in the European-wide war, and that his administration should receive Genet as French minister. Despite its hostility to the authority of the federal government. Attorney General Edmund Randolph wrote the 293-word proclamation for the president`s signature. The controversy moved from the pages of newspapers to the courts when the federal government indicted Gideon Henfield, an American citizen who joined a crew of French Freibefreier, for violating the Declaration of Neutrality when he sailed on a hijacked British ship in Philadelphia Harbor. Minister Genet championed Henfield`s cause and funded a team of very talented lawyers to defend him. The jury ruled that Henfield was not guilty because the defendant had not broken any laws.
In other words, the jury considered the proclamation to be a political statement that did not carry the weight of the law. Attorney General Randolph wasted no time in expressing the administration`s position that, despite the embarrassing outcome of the trial, the increasingly unpopular policy of neutrality still existed. This online lesson was written by Elizabeth Schley, a member of the BRI Faculty Council. Introduction: In 1793, war broke out between the new revolutionary government of France and Great Britain. The American public was divided over who to support: the French, who had supported the American Revolution and perhaps been inspired by it, or Britain. The government in Washington decided that the best way was to remain neutral and issued a declaration of neutrality in April 1793. A debate quickly ensued. The Constitution gives Congress explicit power to declare war, but does it give the president the power to declare neutrality? This lesson will examine the Washington Declaration and the constitutional question it raised. On April 22, 1793, President George Washington issued a Declaration of Neutrality to define American policy in response to the expansion of war into Europe. “The duty and interest of the United States requires,” the proclamation reads, “that it [the United States] adopt and pursue with sincerity and good faith friendly and impartial conduct towards the belligerent powers.
The proclamation warned Americans that the federal government would prosecute any violation of this policy by its citizens and would not protect them if they were brought to justice by a belligerent nation. This political statement provoked a fierce reaction from those who saw it as a betrayal of the revolutionary soul of the nation for the financial profit of the merchant class. “The cause of France is the cause of man, and neutrality is desertion,” an anonymous correspondent for the president wrote. Critics believed the proclamation represented a dishonorable betrayal of our oldest and dearest ally and a sacred covenant made in the darkest hours of the American Revolution. The proclamation was important for the constitutional precedent it set in the exercise of executive power in the field of foreign policy, as well as for stoking partisan political passions that shaped the creation of political parties in the one-party system. Although Alexander Hamilton requested and received a draft statement of neutrality from John Jay, there is no evidence that GW saw this draft or influenced the wording of the final proclamation (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The estate of Alexander Hamilton. 27 volumes.
New York, 1961-87. The description ends with 14:299–300, 307–10). Attorney General Edmund Randolph drafted the final proclamation after Cabinet deliberations on April 19 and 22 (GW to Cabinet, April 18, and source note, and minutes of Cabinet meeting, April 19; JPP, the description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. Le Journal des Actes du Président, 1793-1797. Charlottesville, Virginia, 1981. The description ends with 117). At a cabinet meeting on January 14, Thomas Jefferson argued that while neutrality was a sine qua non, there was no real need to make a declaration of neutrality, either immediately or officially; Perhaps there is no need for an official explanation. The U.S. could declare its neutrality at a price, Jefferson suggested: “Why not stop and get countries to offer [American] neutrality?”  In response, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton stated that U.S. neutrality was non-negotiable. Jefferson eventually resigned as Secretary of State because he did not agree with the proclamation of neutrality.
Members in Washington agreed that neutrality was essential; The nation was too young and its army too small to risk any kind of involvement with France or Britain. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, in particular, saw the influence of Federalists – his political rivals – on this issue; But he, too, agreed that a proclamation was in order, but perhaps not official. The proclamation sparked a firestorm of criticism. Much of the American population sympathized with the cause of revolutionary France. In a series of letters written under the pseudonym Pacificus, Alexander Hamilton took it upon himself to defend the government in the press, arguing that neutrality was in the best interests of the United States. In addition, Hamilton asserted that the 1778 Treaty of Alliance was a defence agreement that was not enforceable in 1793 because the France had declared war on its enemies, an offensive act. Exacerbated by Hamilton`s claims to broad executive power and frustrated by the language of the final version of Randolph`s proclamation, Thomas Jefferson organized a response to Pacificus. At the request of his friend and secretary of state, Hamilton`s former Federalist Papers employee, Congressman James Madison, sided with the opposition in a series of letters under the pseudonym Helivicus opposing Pacificus` arguments. Madison and Hamilton provided each side of the growing partisan divide between Federalists and Republican-Democrats with powerful topics for conversation. Neutrality improves operating standards. Standardization creates transparency, transparency creates trust.
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