Influence of The Military on The Making of Foreigh Policy During The French Revolution

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 2116 |

Pages: 5|

11 min read

Published: Aug 1, 2022

Words: 2116|Pages: 5|11 min read

Published: Aug 1, 2022

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The French Declaration of Rights
  3. Hamilton and Foreign Policy: 1790– 1797
  4. Bibliography


While there is some debate as to the definitive start and end date of the great French Revolution, it is widely agreed that the most prominent events occurred between the years 1789 until 1799. This revolution encouraged a progression of similar combats in Europe and demanded the U.S to develop an authentic and clarified policy of impartiality or neutrality to escape from involving in the clashes and combats of Europe. Moreover, this French Revolution correspondingly had a deep impact on the United States' legislative issues along with its democratic as well as foreign policy.

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The French Declaration of Rights

At the point when the news regarding political variations that were happening in France had spread in America (during the year 1789), the American population showed great enthusiasm towards the Revolution as a whole. Expectations of myriad democratic transformations were high, and it was assumed that they could strengthen the present Franco-American association, with the endpoint of France becoming a democratic administration to contrast the rigid class-based and monarchical society then in place in England.

Notwithstanding, the progressive revolution also brought political upheaval, bloodshed, and appeals for drastic social transformation in France that greatly concerned the majority of the American public. Regardless, the State’s Secretary, Thomas Jefferson, turned into the pioneer of the pro-French Democratic-Republican Party, which moved to acclaim the Republican standards of the French Revolution. Meanwhile, Alexander Hamilton later directed the Federalist Party in considering the Revolution with doubt, and thusly began pursuing the maintenance of prevailing business connections with Great Britain in spite of that conflict. Although the two dominant individuals of the cabinet were seldom in total agreement, George Washington—the acting and first American President-- endeavored to strike harmony between those two sides.

From 1790 to 1794, the French Revolution turned out to be a progressively radical and drastic sequence of events. Subsequent to the execution of the French King Louis XVI, some attempt at war among monarchal countries and France, England, and Spain was inevitable and came to a head on January 21, 1793. Moreover, it was also recorded that these two militaries (France and America,) supported Austria, as well as certain different nations of Europe in combat besides the French Revolution. Yet, technically, America stayed nonpartisan: the two Federalists and Democratic-Republicans observed that these conflicts might result in financial catastrophe and offense to the republics. The set policy established here later became troublesome due to uncooperative moves made by the British and French governments.

Furthermore, in 1794, the French Revolution reached its bloodiest and most dire point, the ‘Terreur’, or reign of Terror. Even though U.S. Ministers through France Gouverneur Morris were not able to originally acquire a discharge for a key figure, Paine, Morris could mediate effectively in the interest of numerous different Americans detained in the Terror, with the American Consuls at Dunkirk, Rouen, and Le Havre. When the Terror drew to a close in 1794, the imprisonments finished, and Paine was discharged.

Although the French Revolution had finished, Federalists in America remained decidedly careful about the liberal belief system empowering America. Several French populaces, notable immigrants from the French and Haitian revolution, started to live in the U.S. urban communities and stayed politically dynamic. A French government agent named Victor Collot visited America in the year 1796 and whilst there observed the lacking empowerment of the western outskirts due to the focus being on the war.

At one point, a failure in agreement regarding certain arguments turned out as the Quasi-War with France. The Federalist-controlled Congress approved a sequence of decrees, which was titled as the Alien and Sedition Acts. This was expected to check the political differences and restricted the political interest of refugees by facilitating expulsion and extending the duration prerequisite for nationality issuance. Various political activists were charged and imprisoned for the insurgency, along with Congressman Matthew Lyon, paper publishing manager James Thompson Callendar, and William Duane. Numerous immigrants-- detecting the antagonistic atmosphere of the United States-- returned to France and Haiti; in the meantime, the dogmatic powers had technically remained quiet.

The Alien and Sedition Acts initially expected to resist development in pro-French philosophy, but certainly stayed disinclined towards the greater empowerment of French Federalists. After recognizing this, the voters of the presidential election (which happened in the year of 1800,) sponsored the master Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican Party, instead of the Federalist John Adams, who had been nominated as the President. Adams had additionally distanced the counter-Revolutionary wing of his party by developing peace and harmony with France, while the great French revolution ended rather differently under what would become the empirical rule of General Napoleon Bonaparte.

Regardless of the Federalist's thoughts that choosing Jefferson might convey revolution to America, Jefferson actually somewhat removed himself from other political revolutionaries, instead prevailing upon political conformists. At this moment, the French revolution was ended, and several voters from the United States sympathized with the ideology of the revolution. Regardless, they did not want to face the aftereffects caused by most of the undesired or unneeded conceptions of the revolution, nor did they want it to be imposed over the American nation.

When the early system offered a path to a sacred government-- and after that, to a republic during 1789– 92-- the whole configuration of France shifted in accordance with the Revolutionary standards of 'Freedom, Equality, and Fraternity'. Conservative Europe remained a contradiction to this, particularly after the French ruler came into power along with the marking of the Declaration of Pillnitz between Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, and King Frederick William II of Prussia. Meanwhile, the resulting French revelation of battle would come to imply that through its development, the Republic of France was constantly fighting, thus requiring military power to guarantee its endurance. Therefore, the significant primary component of the French nation prioritized when it was rebuilt, was its military.

On the other hand, the majority of the ancient system officer-class of France was drawn with the aristocracy. Before the recent revolution of the Monarchy, several officers resigned from their battalions, migrating during the period of 15 September-1 December 1791. However, the individuals who stayed in France were detained or murdered during the Reign of Terror. A small unit of majors was sponsored quickly, which results in a situation where the majority of Revolutionary officers were the juniors of their Monarchist partners. Those high-ranking generals stayed. Among them were Marquis de la Fayette, Comte de Rochambeau, and Comte Nicolas Luckner.

The modification of the Military was superlatively found with regards to the top brass. Prior to the revolution, 90% of individuals were privileged people, but by 1794 this number was just 3%. Liberal power was checked by the Committee of Public Safety, which relegated “Representatives on Mission” to monitoring the general. A few officers fled, while others were executed. The administration requested that combatants should stay faithful to the legislature in Paris instead of their officers during that time.

Hamilton and Foreign Policy: 1790– 1797

In cooperation during Hamilton's residency as Secretary of the Treasury, he performed a key job in growing primary United States foreign policy. His contribution in the domain of global governance issues occurred during the year of 1789, while French Revolution was in Paris. Even though Thomas Jefferson wondered about the republican sentiment of the transformation, Hamilton was horrified by its bloodiness.

During the year 1793 in France, when Napoleon was ruling, he announced a battle with Spain, Great Britain, and Holland. America had recently come up short on assets, ergo wanting to join the Napoleonic Wars to turn a profit. Jefferson concurred with Hamilton and Washington that America must stay unbiased. Though Hamilton trusted that Washington might freely announce that America should not indulge in combat, Jefferson explained that Congress ought to articulate this lack of biases. Moreover, Jefferson contemplated that because no one but Congress could pronounce war, it should only be the main governmental body that could announce a lack of bias. At last, Hamilton secured this position and persuaded Washington to declare the acclaimed “Neutrality Proclamation” in 1793.

American lack of biases was left undetermined, on the other hand, when Citizen Genet-- the French envoy to America—began enlisting. Genet endeavored to utilize American ports to dispatch French maritime assaults and use American territory for French combatants. Genet guaranteed the strategy’s legitimacy, citing that America made a commitment to support France according to the 1778 Franco-American settlement. Hamilton contended that America was not obligated to act according to the 1778 arrangement, since it was made with the lord of France, not with this newly developed French Republic which was established in French Revolution. Hamilton additionally urged Washington to contradict Genet's appeal which says that America reimburses its obligations to France ahead of time. This is another prime example of how military matters of the time put pressure on the formation and execution of foreign policy.

Regardless, Washington denied the request made by Genet; however, he didn't pronounce it a cancellation, as suggested by Hamilton. Genet continued his enlistment crusade, which almost provoked Great Britain to announce a confrontation with America. Washington requested Genet’s return to France, which was not carried out.

Hamilton supported Washington as he drafted his well-known “Farewell Address”. Washington gave it in 1796, stating it would be unbelievable to accept any third term in office. In the “Farewell Address”, he mentioned certain important concerns. Firstly, Washington urged American individuals not to separate themselves into ideological groups based over political beliefs and requested that they keep up and maintain their Republican standards. Washington warned the American republic to stay away from the issues of the European countries—a direct effect of what he had seen militarily. Numerous scholars trust that Hamilton composed a considerate amount of these key sections, even though its tenor emulates Washington's. The President resigned in the year 1796, and Vice-President, John Adams took up his mantle.

Meanwhile, the government of France reacted viciously to “Jay's Treaty”, which was brought in consideration during Anglo-American collusion in contradiction of France. Between 1796 and 1800, the French Navy detained or crushed many American vessels, eradicating all formal strategic relations with America. Hamilton appealed to President Adams to refer John Jay to Paris to arrange another settlement with France. Adams concurred, yet when the ministers landed in France, the French government requested a payoff of a quarter million dollars. The payoff wound up entitled as the “XYZ Affair”, after the three anonymous French ambassadors who had requested installment. This was plainly a bribe. Americans were outraged, and several called for war.

While the Russian Revolution began in 1917, several of its leaders found self-determination from the French Revolution. Both French and Russian Revolutions contended a development which could be segregated into moderate, radical, and reactionary phases. It was commonly said that 'When France wheezes, Europe catches a cold”, and certainly, Russia was threatened with the French germ. This came following the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Russian officers left impeccably fluent in French upon their return to Russia, and with positive bias that would likely affect their policies henceforth.

In contrast to this, numerous dissimilarities of the American and French Revolutions can be found. Unlike the French, Americans were not fighting for an abstract concept. Americans waged war with Britain to safeguard and protect the customary privileges of the populace of England that they felt denied. The trademark 'no taxation without representation' united their main protests. However, the right to avoid and discard taxation without the assent of their elected representatives was a standout amongst the most valued privileges of Englishmen.

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Throughout the French Revolution, the influence of prior wars upon the formation of policies is more than clear. The war itself set fears and ideologies prevalent in its laws, and this can be seen in the American response to the times as well. Moreover, the French Revolution had unignorable impacts on foreign policy in other countries going forward, proving that the military did not just affect foreign policy, but often created it in response to conflict.


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  2. Armitage and Sanjay, The Age of Revolutions in Global Context, c.1760-1840, (2010)
  3. Bayly, Christopher Alan, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914
  4. Connelly, Owen. The wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon, 1792–1815. Routledge, 2012.
  5. Doyle, William, Oxford History of the French Revolution (1990)
  6. Fuller, John Frederick Charles. The Conduct of War 1789-1961: A Study of the Impact of the French, Industrial and Russian Revolutions on War and Its Conduct. Routledge, 2015.
  7. Hickey, Donald R. 'America's Response to the Slave Revolt in Haiti, 1791-1806.' Journal of the Early Republic 2.4 (1982): 361-379.
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  9. Matthewson, Timothy M. 'George Washington's Policy Toward the Haitian Revolution.' Diplomatic History 3.3 (1979): 321-336.
  10. Ott, Thomas O. The Haitian Revolution, 1789-1804. Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1987
  11. Sutherland, Donald, The French Revolution and Empire: the quest for a civic order (2003)
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Influence of the Military on the Making of Foreigh Policy During the French Revolution. (2022, August 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 14, 2024, from
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