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  • Author: Jeffrey S. Selinger
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Writing in 1813 to his old friend and political adversary Thomas Jefferson, John Adams vividly described the scene in Philadelphia when the French Revolutionary Wars broke out: “You certainly never felt the Terrorism excited by Genêt, in 1793, when ten thousand People in the Streets of Philadelphia, day after day threatened to drag Washington out of his House, and effect a Revolution in the Government, or compell it to declare War in favour of the French Revolution and against England.”1 Adams andWashington had witnessed firsthand this “terrorism” incited by Edmond Genêt, Foreign Minister from France, and it powerfully influenced their appraisal of the risks political parties and other extra-constitutional amalgamations posed to the young Republic. Just a few years after the Genêt Affair, President George Washington issued his often-quoted Farewell Address, in which he admonished the American people to avoid foreign entanglements and be wary of the “baneful effects of the spirit of party.”2 These two recommendations went hand-in-hand: political parties, in Washingtonʼs view, would only continue to polarize a polity divided by foreign war.3 The first President was particularly suspicious of the Jeffersonian Republican Party, which he believed had encouraged Francophile partisans to take up arms in support of the French revolutionary struggle against Britain and other powers.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Washington, France, England