The French Revolution in America

Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick

in The Age of Federalism

Published in print March 1995 | ISBN: 9780195093810
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854127 | DOI:
The French Revolution in America

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For convenience in historical bookkeeping, the usual tendency is to classify the great outpouring of popular enthusiasm in America for the French Revolution—culminating in 1793 with the arrival of Citizen Edmond Charles Genet as first minister of the French Republic to the United States—as primarily an episode in foreign relations. However, this leaves out nearly everything that is most interesting about the Genet affair and the context in which it occurred. Whatever the terms of the 1778 alliance with France, no aspect of the national interest nor any of the imperatives of international diplomacy would be served by tying the fortunes of the United States even in the most limited way to those of revolutionary France in the international upheaval that erupted in 1793. For America, the French Revolution served two broad uses, the nourishment it gave to Americans' own opinion of themselves, and as a major point of reference for domestic political partisanship.

Keywords: America; French Revolution; Edmond Charles Genet; Genet affair; France; political partisanship

Chapter.  39582 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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