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was well known, that if the authority of the laws had been resorted to, to stop the Little Democrat, its officers and agents were to have been resisted by the crew of the vessel, consisting partly of American citizens."* A copy of this letter was immediately communicated to Mr. Genet, and called from him a reply dated September 16th, but which did not reach the president until December following. The history of diplomacy, it is believed, may be searched in vain, for a more insulting and insolent communication, from a foreign agent to the government to which he was accredited. After accusing the president of assuming the exercise of powers not belonging to him, of bending treaties to circumstances and of changing their sense, of preparing accusations against the American people, rather than against him; after declaring that the conduct attributed to him was that of gratitude against ingratitude, of truth against error, he demanded," as an act of justice, which the American people, which the French people, which all free people are interested to reclaim, that there be made a particular inquiry, in the next session of congress, of the motives, on which the head of the executive power of the United States has taken on himself to demand the recall of a public minister, whom the sovereign people of the United States had received fraternally, and recognized, before the diplomatic forms had been fulfilled, with respect to him, at Philadelphia. It is in the name of the French people," he added, " that I am sent to their brethren-to free and sovereign men; it is, then, for the representatives of the American people, and not for a single man, to exhibit against me an act of accusation, if I have merited it. A despot may singly permit himself to demand from another despot, the recall of his representative, and to order his expulsion in case of refusal." He also charged him with issuing "premature proclamations," with "a partial impartiality," which soured his friends, without satisfying his enemies; and in conclusion, he enumerated many executive acts, at which he had been extremely wounded, some of which were, indeed, of an extraordinary and ridiculous nature. He complained, that the president was in a * American State Papers, vol. 1, p. 155.
hurry, before knowing what he had to transmit to him, to proclaim sentiments, over which decency and friendship should at least have drawn a veil-that he decorated his parlor with medallions of Capet and his family-that American citizens, who had ranged themselves under the banners of France, by his instructions, had been prosecuted and arrested, and that, in spite of "respectful insinuations, he had deferred to convoke congress immediately, in order to take the true sentiments of the people, to fix the political system of the United States, and to decide, whether they would break, suspend or tighten their cords with France."
The French minister, however, still continued to exercise the highest acts of sovereignty, within the United States. Not content with arming vessels in our ports, and manning them with American citizens, to cruise against nations at peace with their country, he, in the latter part of the year, projected an hostile expedition from South Carolina and Georgia, against the Floridas. To carry this project into effect, he secretly issued commissions to several citizens of South Carolina, with instructions to raise, organize, train and conduct troops within the United States, with the avowed object to proceed, with hostile intentions, against the Spanish dominions. Several persons in South Carolina received these commissions, and proceeded to enlist men in that state under them. To induce enlistments, not only the pay, rations, and clothing were stated, but a share of the conquests, was allotted to the officers and men who should engage. The whole was to be conducted with the utmost secrecy; small parties were to assemble on the shores near Charleston or elsewhere, and a French fleet was to take and convey them to the place of their destination. A rumor of these proceedings having reached the legislature of South Carolina while in session, an inquiry was instituted before a committee of the house of representatives. This committee found the facts above stated, and reported the same to the legislature, with the names of several citizens who had actually received commissions from the French minister. This report was accepted by the legislature, and the VOL. II. 48
governor requested to issue a proclamation, prohibiting all assemblages of troops, unauthorized by government, and to exert the whole force of the state, if necessary, to enforce obedience to his commands.
They also recommended, that prosecutions be commenced against the persons named in the report. The governor, on the 9th of December, issued a proclamation, and prosecutions were instituted against those principally concerned.
The proceedings of the legislature of South Carolina, were immediately forwarded to the president. As soon as the French minister heard of them, he addressed a note to the secretary of state, in which he declared, that he had not authorized, in any manner, the recruiting, the formation, or the collecting of an armed force, or of any corps, in the territory of the United States; but, at the same time," he added, "I am too frank to disguise from you, that, authorized by the French nation, to deliver commissions to those of your fellow citizens who should feel themselves animated with a desire of serving the best of causes, I have granted them to several brave republicans of South Carolina, whose intention appeared to me to be to expatriate themselves, and to go among the independent tribes, ancient friends and allies of France, in order to retaliate, if they could, in concert with us, on the Spanish and English, the injury which the government of these two nations had the baseness to commit on your fellow citizens, under the name of those savages, in like manner as is lately done under that of the Algerines.”"
As those who should engage in this enterprize were to assemble, in small parties, along the coast, and be taken on board of vessels, the French minister, it seems, did not consider this as recruiting, forming, or collecting an armed force, in the territory of the United States.
The reasons avowed for his conduct are, indeed, very extraordinary, as well as inconsistent. The persons to whom he gave commissions, were to expatriate themselves, and yet they were only to go among certain Indian tribes; and for what purpose? Not to aid or avenge the cause of France, but to retaliate upon
the Spaniards and English, the injuries committed by their government upon American citizens, under the name of those savages; and this was to be done in concert with France. The real object was, by the aid of American citizens, to wrest by force, the Floridas from the Spaniards, against whom the American government had, indeed, just cause of complaint, for their intrigues with the Indians on the southern borders.
The French minister projected also an hostile expedition against New Orleans and Louisiana from the state of Kentucky. This was put in a train of execution in a more bold and daring manner, than the enterprise against the Floridas from South Carolina and Georgia. Genet soon became acquainted with the views and feelings of the people of the west, concerning the navigation of the Mississippi, as well as their suspicions, that the general government had neglected to urge this subject with Spain in a manner its importance demanded.
Taking advantage of these feelings, as well as the opposition of the people to the general government, as early as August, 1793, he formed a plan of an expedition from the west, against the Spanish possessions at the mouth of the Mississippi.
The president, apprized of this, on the 29th of August gave information to the governor of Kentucky that measures were then taking in Philadelphia, to excite the inhabitants of that state, to join in the enterprize. And the governor was desired to attend particularly to any such attempts among the citizens of that state, and to put them on their guard against the consequences of committing acts of hostility against nations at peace with the United States, and to take all legal measures necessary to prevent them. Democratic societies were about the same time formed in Kentucky, and the subject of the navigation of the Mississippi claimed their attention.
In October, 1793, the society at Lexington declared, "That the right of the people on the waters of the Mississippi to the navigation, was undoubted; and that it ought to be peremptorily demanded of Spain, by the government of the United States."
Other publications appeared about the same time, calculated to inflame the people at the west, on a subject in which they felt so deep an interest.
In this state of public sentiment, the French minister, about the first of November, sent four persons to Kentucky, by the names of La Chaise, Charles Depeau, Mathurin and Gignoux, with orders to engage men in an expedition against New Orleans and the Spanish possessions; and for this purpose they carried with them blank commissions. The governor of Kentucky was again informed of these movements by the secretary of state, in a letter of the 6th of November, and was furnished not only with the names of the persons then on their way, but a particular description of them and he was requested to prevent any such enterprise from that state, and if necessary, to employ the militia for that purpose. These emissaries arrived in Kentucky about the last of November, and found not only many of the people of that state ready to engage in the expedition, but the gov ernor himself disposed, if not to countenance, at least to connive at it. Aware, no doubt, of this disposition, two of these Frenchmen, La Chaise and Depeau, on the 25th of November, addressed notes to the governor himself.
Depeau informed him that he had been despatched by the French ambassador, in company with other Frenchmen to join the expedition of the Mississippi-but as strange reports had reached him, that his excellency had orders to arrest all who might incline to assist them, he wished to be satisfied on the subject.*
* The following is the extraordinary letter of Depeau, as found in H. Marshall's history of Kentucky.
"Citizen governor---It may appear quite strange to write to you on a subject in which, although it is of some consequence.
"With confidence from the French ambassador, I have been despatched in company with more Frenchmen to join the expedition of the Mississippi.
"As I am to procure the provision, I am happy to communicate to you, whatever you shall think worthy of my notice, or in which your advice may be of use to me, as I hope I have no way disobliged you; if I have, I will most willingly ask your pardon. For nobody can be more than I am willing for your prosperity and happiness.