In 1790 America's foreign relations were in a state of utter chaos. Spain was still in control of the mouth of the Mississippi and refused to let Americans unload in New Orleans. Britain continued to encumber American trading efforts and refused to abandon her western posts in North America. Even France, America's staunch ally during the revolution was beginning to restrict American trading efforts. In 1789 the French revolution initially met with positive reviews in America. Some saw it as 'spark from the altar flame of liberty on this side of the Atlantic, which alighted in the pinnacle of despotism in France and reduced the immense fabric to ashes in the twinkling of an eye.
' President Washington even received a key to the Bastille as a link between the American and French struggles against tyranny. But with the execution of the French monarchy, the reign of terror against the revolution's enemies, confiscation of noble's property, and attacks against the church Federalists became shocked and frightened. Federalists feared that the 'moral influenza' that infected the French could presumably spread back to America. On the other hand, the Jeffersonians continued to admire the revolutionaries and approved of the execution of Louis XVI and the reign of terror. In 1793 relations between the two major factions (Jeffersonians and Hamiltonian's) were stressed even more when the new French republic entered a war against England, Spain, and Holland. The French sent Edmond Genet to the United States as a minister.
Hamilton and his allies opposed even receiving Genet in fear that it would immediately involve America in the war. Jeffersonians however thought that turning our back on the French would be equivalent to ending our alliance with France. While neither sides wanted to see America enter the war they differed on how they thought it would be most prudent to declare neutrality. Hamilton believed it the President's task to declare neutrality, and thought he should do so at once.
Jefferson believed that congress should be responsible for making the announcement and do so only when the maximum concessions had been squeezed out of both France and Britain. In April of 1793 Washington took Hamilton's advice and declared America's intent to be impartial in the conflict. Jeffersonians did not approve of this and thought I generally offensive and too neutral. In 1703 after authorizing privateers to sail from American ports and hiring Rogers Clark to lead an expedition against Spanish holdings in Louisiana and Florida Genet demanded the President call Congress into a special session to decide if it would aid France. The Jeffersonians had initially like Genet but now their feelings were beginning to wane. The Federalists despised him and even went as far as to say (the) 'bastard offspring of Genet, spawned in hell, to which they would presently return.
' Even though widely hated Genet was eventually granted asylum in America for fear he would be immediately executed if returned to the Jacobin controlled France. All this political bickering over foreign policy was not hesitant to spill over into the press. Newspapers on both sides published heartless criticisms of each side that went far enough in widening the differences between the two schools of thought that in 1793 Jefferson resigned as secretary of state but continued his leadership through communication with Madison from Monticello. Along with this the Jay Treaty infuriated the Jeffersonians for it seemed a sellout of their French allies. While the Hamiltonian majority in the senate passed the treaty Jefferson continued to claim that it had 'undone the country'.