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   Chapter 83 No.83

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 2483

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: French Revolution.]

[Sidenote: War.]

So far the parties had been little more than personal followings; the mighty movements in Europe were now to crystallize them. Early in 1789 a revolution had come about in France; in 1791 a constitution was put in force under which the king became a limited monarch; in 1792 war broke out between France and a Prussian-Austrian alliance. Disasters on the frontier were followed by the overthrow of the monarchy, and in January, 1793, Louis the Sixteenth was executed. The anarchical movement, once begun, hurried on until the government of France fell into the hands of men controlled by the populace of Paris. On Feb. 3, 1793, the French Republic declared war against England: the issue was instantly accepted. As the two powers were unable conveniently to reach each other on land, great efforts were made on both sides to fit out fleets. The colonies of each power were exposed to attack, and colonial trade was in danger.

[Sidenote: Interest of America.]

From the first the sympathy of the United States had naturally been with France. The republic seemed due to American example; Jefferson was our minister at Paris in 1789, and saw his favorite principles of human liberty ext

ending to Europe. The excesses of the Revolution, however, startled the Federalists, who saw in them a sufficient proof that Jefferson's "people" could not be trusted. The war brought up the question of the treaty of 1778 with France, by which the Americans bound themselves to guarantee the colonial possessions of France in case of defensive war.

[Sidenote: Danger to America.]

For the United States to enter the war as ally of either side meant to lose most of the advantages gained by the new Constitution: the Indians on the frontier had opposed and defeated a large body of United States troops; the revenue of the country derived from imports would cease as soon as war was declared; American ships would be exposed to capture on every sea. Trade with the West Indies, which proceeded irregularly and illegally, was now likely to be broken up altogether. The question was no longer one of international law, but of American politics: the Democrats were inclined to aid France, by war or by indirect aid,-such as we had received from France at the beginning of the Revolutionary War; the Federalists leaned toward England, because they wished English trade, and because they feared the spread of anarchical principles in America.

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