Secretary Jefferson and the revolutionary France, 1790-1793.
McGrath, Paul Cox
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When the Confederation government passed into history and President Washington began the unfamiliar task of selecting official advisers, he awarded the most important positions to two distinguished Americans who were destined to dislike each other cordially. To the Treasury Department, Alexander Hamilton brought financial genius and a marked devotion to the interests of the propertied classes. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson also respected the right to private property, but he passionately loved liberty. This difference of emphasis frequently was to try the temper of the American Cabinet from 1790-1793. Jefferson, the lover of liberty and the foe of privilege, had just returned from five years of diplomatic service in Paris. He believed that the United States should foster closer relations with France, where the revolution was an embodiment of the liberal ideals of his time. His admiration for the eighteenth century reform movement led him to advocate a more familiar association with the French people who, like the Americans, were demonstrating their repugnance to tyranny. Secretary Jefferson reasoned that the best interests of the United States would be served by fostering intimacy with a country which shared the American political philosophy. Hamilton pictured American prosperity growing out of a close relationship with the British. Britain controlled seventy-five percent of the foreign trade of the United States and Hamilton's attitude may be traced primarily to that cold fact. Hamilton, moreover, did not share Jefferson;s faith in mankind. He supported a republican form of government, but if the choice of foreign friends lay between an English oligarchy and the kaleidoscopic administrations typical of revolutionary France, he would prefer association with the former. The calm dignity of President Washington was the factor which invariably led Hamilton and Jefferson to compromise on important aspects of foreign policy. American foreign policy, it should be emphasized, was not the product of one man. It was enunciated by the Cabinet in line with what were reasonably considered to be the vest interests of the nation. The execution of the Cabinet's foreign policies lay within the particular province of Secretary Jefferson. [Truncated]
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University.
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