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Edmond Charles Genét

Political Figure

Born: 8 January 1763
Died: 14 July 1834
Birthplace: Versailles, France
Best known as: Rabble-rousing French minister to the U.S., 1793
Edmond Charles Genét was a French diplomat whose actions in 1793 conflicted with George Washington's foreign policy and created friction between political factions in the newly formed United States. After the French Revolution, "Citizen" Genét was appointed by the Girondin-controlled new republic to be an emissary to the U.S. His role was to encourage the U.S. to side with France in their hostilities with Britain and Spain. Genét arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in early April of 1793. Rather than immediately going to Philadelphia to be received by President Washington, Genét spent a month being feted by American fans, encouraging privateers to attack British ships and advocating revolution for Florida, Louisiana and Canada. Meanwhile, Washington announced a policy of neutrality in Europe's war, setting off a dispute between Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson, initially sympathetic to Genét, was eventually forced to rebuke him for his audacity. Washington got so fed up with Genét's antics he asked France to recall him. The French agreed, but by that time the Girondists had been replaced by the Jacobins and Genét was not looked upon favorably back home. He settled in New York's Hudson Valley, married the daughter of New York Governor George Clinton (who later served as Jefferson's second vice president) and lived a quiet life as a farmer.

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