EDMOND CHARLES GENéT Biography - Polititians


Biography » polititians » edmond charles gen 233;t


Name: Edmond-Charles Genét                                                               
Born: 8 January 1763                                                                     
Died: 14 July 1834                                                                       
Edmond-Charles Genét (January 8, 1763 – July 14, 1834), also known as Citizen         
Genét, was a French ambassador to the United States during the French Revolution.       
Genét was born in Versailles in 1763. He was the ninth child and only son of a           
French civil servant, Edme Jacques Genet (September 11, 1726 - September 11,             
1781) head clerk in the ministry of foreign affairs. The elder Genet analyzed           
British naval strength during the Seven Years' War and monitored the progress of         
the American Revolutionary War. Genét was a prodigy who could read French,               
English, Italian, Latin, Swedish, and German by the age of 12.                           
At 18, Genét was appointed court translator, and in 1788 he was sent to the             
French embassy in Saint Petersburg. Over time, Genét became disenchanted with           
the ancien regime, learning to despise not just the French monarchy but all             
monarchical systems, including Tsarist Russia under Catherine the Great. In 1792,       
Catherine declared Genét persona non grata, calling his presence "not only               
superfluous but even intolerable." The same year, the Girondists rose to power           
in France and appointed Genét to the post of minister to the United States.             
The Citizen Genét affair began in 1793 when he was dispatched to the United             
States to promote American support for France's wars with Spain and Britain.             
Genét arrived in Charleston, South Carolina on the warship Embuscade on April 8.         
Instead of traveling to the then-capital of Philadelphia to present himself to U.S.     
President George Washington for accreditation, Genét stayed in South Carolina.           
There he was greeted with enthusiasm by the people of Charleston, who threw a           
string of parties in his honor.                                                         
Genét's goals in South Carolina were to recruit and arm American privateers             
which would join French expeditions against the British. He commissioned four           
privateering ships in total: the Republicaine, the Anti-George, the Sans-Culotte,       
and the Citizen Genét. Working with French consul Michel-Ange Mangourit, Genét           
organized American volunteers to fight Britain's Spanish allies in Florida.             
After raising a militia, Genét set sail toward Philadelphia, stopping along the         
way to marshal support for the French cause and arriving on May 18. He                   
encouraged Democratic-Republican Societies, but President Washington denounced           
them and they quickly withered away.                                                     
His actions endangered American neutrality in the war between France and Britain,       
which Washington had pointedly declared in his Neutrality Proclamation of April         
22. When Genét met with Washington, he asked for what amounted to a suspension           
of American neutrality. When turned down by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson         
and informed that his actions were unacceptable, Genét protested. Meanwhile,             
Genét's privateers were capturing British ships, and his militia was preparing           
to move against the Spanish.                                                             
Genét continued to defy the wishes of the United States government, capturing           
British ships and rearming them as privateers. Washington sent Genét an 8,000-word       
letter of complaint on Jefferson's and Hamilton's advice–one of the few               
situations in which the Federalist Hamilton and the Democratic-Republican               
Jefferson agreed. Genét replied obstinately.                                             
The Jacobins, having taken power in France by January 1794, sent an arrest               
notice which asked Genét to come back to France. Genét, knowing that he would           
likely be sent to the guillotine, asked Washington for asylum. Ironically, it           
was Hamilton–Genét's fiercest opponent in the cabinet–who convinced Washington       
to grant him safe haven in the United States.                                           
Genét moved to New York State and married Cornelia Clinton in 1794, the daughter         
of New York Governor George Clinton. She died in 1810 and in 1818 Genét married         
Martha Brandon Osgood, the daughter of Samuel Osgood, the United States' first           
Postmaster General.                                                                     
Genét lived on a farm he called Prospect Hill located in East Greenbush, New             
York overlooking the Hudson River. Living the life of a gentleman farmer, he             
wrote a book about inventions.                                                           
He died on July 14, 1834 and is buried in the churchyard behind the Greenbush           
Reformed Church, about 2 miles east of his farm.