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Sale 38 Lot 540

(JOHN ADAMS) Printed act signed in type by John Adams as President and Thomas Jefferson as Vice President, 3pp., tall folio, on a folded sheet, Feb. 27, 1800, titled "An Act to Further suspend the commercial intercourse between the United States and France, and the dependencies thereof". It reads, in small part: "...Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That all commercial intercourse between any person or persons resident within the United States...and any person or persons resident within the territories of the French Republic...shall be...prohibited and further suspended...". Tensions with the newly formed United States and France began on November 20, 1798, when a French warship, off the French colony island of Guadeloupe, captured an American schooner. In early 1799, Captain Thomas Trexton of the U.S.S. Constellation retaliated by capturing a French ship and the U. S. imposed this act to suspend trade between the United States and France. In 1800, Trexton again dueled with French ships and again, a trade embargo was imposed by the U. S. This crisis led to what became known as the Quasi-War with France, which nearly escalated into a full-scale conflict between the former allies. The Kingdom of France had been a major ally of the United States in the American Revolutionary War, but the new government of Revolutionary France viewed the Jay Treaty, a 1794 agreement between the United States and the Kingdom of Great Britain, as a violation of France's 1778 Treaty of Alliance with the United States. The Jay Treaty resolved several points of contention between the United States and Great Britain that had lingered since the end of the war, but also contained economic clauses, and seeing that the United States had already declared neutrality in the conflict between Great Britain and France, that American legislation was being passed for a trade deal with their enemy led to French outrage. The French began to seize American ships trading with their British enemies and refused to receive a new United States minister when he arrived in Paris in December 1796. In his annual message to Congress at the close of 1797, President John Adams reported on France's refusal to negotiate and spoke of the need "to place our country in a suitable posture of defense". In April 1798, President Adams informed Congress of the "XYZ Affair", in which French agents demanded a large bribe for the restoration of relations with the United States. The French inflicted terrible losses on American shipping. Secretary of State Timothy Pickering reported to Congress in June 1797 that the French had captured 316 American merchant ships in the previous eleven months. The hostilities caused insurance rates on American shipping to increase at least 500 percent, as French marauders cruised the length of the U.S. Atlantic seaboard virtually unopposed. The administration had no warships to combat them; the last having been sold off in 1785. The United States possessed only a flotilla of revenue cutters and some neglected coastal forts. Increased depredations by privateers from Revolutionary France required the United States Navy to protect the expanding merchant shipping of the United States. The United States Congress authorized the President to acquire, arm, and man no more than twelve vessels, of up to twenty-two guns each. Under the terms of this act, several vessels were purchased and converted into ships of war. July 7, 1798 when Congress rescinded treaties with France, can be considered a semi-official beginning of the Quasi War. The act of 7 July was followed two days later with Congressional authorization to attack French vessels. Very minor toning, edges a bit rough, otherwise fine.
Estimate $ 2,500-3,000

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