What was the Quasi War?
The expression 'Quasi War' means it had some resemblance to a war, but was it was unofficial and did not include military forces on land. It was an undeclared war.
Reasons for the Quasi War: Background and History for kids
The violent struggle in the French Revolution (1789-1799) was drawing to a close. The French, previously allies of the US, received no help from the US in their war against the British. The Neutrality Proclamation of 1793 had stated that the US would take no part in a war between two or more other powers (meaning France and Great Britain). France were infuriated when they heard of Jay's Treaty (the 1794 Treaty with the British). The French had hoped that the America would declare war on the British - instead they had arranged a treaty. Diplomatic relations between the US and France reached an all-time low following the XYZ Affair in 1797, when three French diplomats sent a letter asking for a $250,000 bribe before arranging a meeting of the American delegation in France. These were the reasons that contributed to what became known as the Quasi War with France.
What was the Quasi War?
The Quasi War was an undeclared war involving conflicts fought entirely at sea between the United States of America and France.
When did the Quasi War begin?
The Quasi War began shortly after the Jay Treaty took effect in late 1794 when the French began seizing American ships trading with Britain. However the official start date of the Quasi War is July 7, 1798 when Congress rescinded all treaties with France. The threat of war with France led to the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts.
When did the Quasi War end?
The Quasi War ended on September 30, 1800 when the Treaty of Mortefontaine ended hostilities between the US and France.
Quasi War for kids: French Privateers
Privateers were used by the French against the United States. The French privateers were privately owned warships commissioned to prey on the commercial shipping or warships of an enemy nation. The French privateers sailed along the American coasts and captured US vessels off the entrances of the principal harbors.
Escalation of the Quasi War (1797 - 1798)
The 1797 XYZ Affair was the last straw for Americans. France had insulted and humiliated the new nation. A wave of Anti-French feeling engulfed the nation. French flags were burned and the people were outraged. George Washington was appointed Commander-in-chief who started to organize a provisional army and a navy department was organized. Congress authorized President Adams to expand the navy to combat the French privateers who continued to capture American merchant ships. There were only a few ships in the US navy. A and the building of more warships was begun. Efforts were made to quickly to increase the US navy as merchant ships were bought and converted into cruisers.
Quasi War for kids: Treaties with France Cancelled
On July 7, 1798, Congress cancelled all treaties with France and the US Navy was ordered to seek out and destroy French warships and privateers operating against American merchant ships.
Conflicts during the Quasi War
The US Navy had managed to get together a fleet of about 30 warships. These American warships drove the French privateers to the West Indies and even continued to chase them as they fled southwards. The USS Delaware captured the French privateer La Croyable off New Jersey on July 7, 1798. Then the American cruisers then began to capture French men-of-war. Captain Truxton, in the Constellation, captured the French frigate L'Insurgent on February 9, 1799. Many other French ships were captured. During the entire conflict of the Quasi War, the US Navy only lost one warship. The US were highly encouraged by their successes and preparations were made to carry on the naval war even more vigorously against the French.
The Quasi War for kids: The Treaty of 1800
The United States might have been happy with their successes but the French became extremely concerned. The French decided that they had been hasty in their treatment of the Americans. The French backed down and said that if another US Ambassador was sent to France, he would be honorably received. Napoleon Bonaparte was now the ruler of France he received the three US commissioners with respect and a treaty between France and the US was soon signed.
It was referred to as the treaty of 1800. Although Napoleon Bonaparte was gracious to the Americans he refused to give way on two points. Bonaparte declined to pay for American property seized by the French, and he insisted that the treaty of 1778 was still binding on both countries. It was finally agreed that the United States would relinquish their claims for damages, and the French government would permit the treaty to be annulled. President Adams was pleased by the outcome but received many criticisms from the Federalists on the terms of the treaty who worked to prevent his re-election to office.