XYZ Affair

XYZ Affair
(1797–98) Diplomatic incident between the U.S. and France.

Pres. John Adams sent special envoys Elbridge Gerry and John Marshall to France to help Charles C. Pinckney negotiate an agreement to protect U.S. shipping from French privateers. Before the three could meet with Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, they were approached by three of his agents
called X, Y, and Z in diplomatic correspondence to Adams
who suggested a bribe of $250,000 to Talleyrand and a loan of $10 million to France as preconditions for negotiations. Adams rejected the French demands and reported the mission had failed. When he was forced to reveal the correspondence, public outrage was followed by calls for war with France. The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed to restrict potential French sympathizers. The Convention of 1800 ended a period of undeclared naval warfare between the U.S. and France.

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▪ United States history
 diplomatic incident that, when made public in 1798, nearly involved the United States and France in war. Pres. John Adams dispatched three ministers to France in 1797 to negotiate a commercial agreement to protect U.S. shipping. In Paris the ministers were approached by three French agents who suggested a bribe of $250,000 to Talleyrand, the French foreign minister, and a loan of $10,000,000 to France as a prelude to negotiations. In April 1798 the machinations of the three French agents (called X, Y, and Z in the diplomatic correspondence) were made public in the United States. There was a great outcry over the bribe solicitation, followed by preparations for war. Although a period of undeclared naval warfare ensued between France and the United States formal war was avoided, and the incident was settled by the Convention of 1800.

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Universalium. 2010.

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