Genet, Edmond Charles Édouard

Genet, Edmond Charles Édouard ĕdmôNˈ shärl ādwärˈ zhənāˈ [key], 1763–1834, French diplomat, known as Citizen Genet. He had served as a French representative in Berlin, Vienna, and St. Petersburg before the French Revolution, and he continued in Russia until 1792, when he was expelled because of his revolutionary ardor. Sent as minister to the United States in 1793, he was met with wild acclaim by the numerous supporters of France, but President Washington, anxious to preserve U.S. neutrality in the French Revolutionary Wars, was cold to the demonstrations. Genet's efforts to raise troops to strike at Spanish Florida and to commission privateers to prey on British commerce were not approved by Washington. The President, backed by pro-British Alexander Hamilton, forbade the French privateers to use U.S. ports as bases, despite the warm public approval and the provisions of a 1778 treaty with France. Genet challenged Washington's authority by threatening to appeal to the American people, and the U.S. government demanded (1793) his recall. Before he could go back to France, his party, the Girondists, had fallen, and his return would have meant the guillotine. Washington therefore refused to allow his extradition. Genet remained in the United States and married the daughter of Gov. George Clinton of New York.

See study by H. Ammon (1973).

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