Americas Growing Pains1

Length: 4 Pages 996 Words

America’s first two presidents, George Washington and John Adams, both resolutely adhered to the idea that America should endeavor to stay out of war at all times, and did everything in their power to evade declaring and entering into war. Throughout their reigns, war was ubiquitous in Europe, and many countries (especially Britain and France) made numerous attempts to obtain and secure America’s support. Washington and Adams both believed that America should not side with any foreign country during times of war making the fundamental purport of America’s first foreign policy the elusion of war at all costs. This policy was manifested throughout Washington and Adams’ involvement in, and reactions to the following affairs: the Citizen Genet controversy, the Jay Treaty, and the XYZ Affair. One of Washington’s initial attempts to pursue this policy was his counteraction to the Genet Affair. In 1793, George Washington proclaimed neutrality, thus declaring America an uninvolved, nonpartisan country in times of war. Simultaneously, Edmond Charles Genet was sent to the United States as a special representative from France to implore support in the French Revolution. Genet had previously resolved that th Continue...


In addition to Washington's response to the Genet affair, he further strived to avert involvement in war by signing the Jay Treaty. Washington nonetheless held firmly to his foreign policy, advocating it to his successor and the American people in his 'Farewell Address'. Adams, who was never extremely popular, was now seen as a national hero. John Adams became president in 1796 and continued to preserve Washington's foreign policy. The risks taken by both presidents, and the end results of the Genet controversy, Jay Treaty, and XYZ affair, substantiated their policy by verifying the importance of avoiding war and presenting the drastic measures taken by Washington and Adams to avoid war. One example that exhibits this was the XYZ Affair. This demand was later made by two other agents known as Y and Z. The Americans refused and the talks eventually ended. In an attempt to deplete the threat of Americans supporting the French, he avowed that Genet would be expelled. This incident is a lucid manifestation of Washington's ample efforts to avoid war. John Adams then appointed three commissioners, Charles Pinckney, John Marshall and Elbridge Gerry, to try and arrange a moderate settlement that would eliminate their differences without mentioning the merits. In corroboration with the previous examples, Washington and Adams determinedly did all they could to avoid war at all costs and follow through with their foreign policy. Commencing in Charleston, South Carolina, Genet traveled throughout the United States presenting his credentials. Not declaring war and adhering to his foreign policy further evinced the fact that Adams was willing to risk losing his increasing popularity, and therefore America did not officially enter into war.