XYZ Affair


XYZ Affair

(1797–98) Diplomatic incident between the U.S. and France. Pres. John Adams sent special envoys Elbridge Gerry and John Marshall to France to help Charles C. Pinckney negotiate an agreement to protect U.S. shipping from French privateers. Before the three could meet with Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, they were approached by three of his agents—called X, Y, and Z in diplomatic correspondence to Adams—who suggested a bribe of $250,000 to Talleyrand and a loan of $10 million to France as preconditions for negotiations. Adams rejected the French demands and reported the mission had failed. When he was forced to reveal the correspondence, public outrage was followed by calls for war with France. The Alien and Sedition Acts were passed to restrict potential French sympathizers. The Convention of 1800 ended a period of undeclared naval warfare between the U.S. and France.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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