[Worcester: Isaiah Thomas]:, Dec. 24, 1800. pp. Text in four columns. Broadsheet, approximately 10 1/2 x 17 1/4 inches. Moderately tanned, some light staining. Very good. In a green cloth chemise and half morocco and cloth slipcase, spine gilt. Item #WRCAM54772
An historically-important and rare extra edition of Isaiah Thomas's MASSACHUSETTS SPY, reporting the fledgling United States' 1800 treaty with France that averted all-out war between the two nations. Relieving the tensions that had built through the period of the Genet Affair, the XYZ Affair, and the Quasi-War, the Convention of Mortefontaine re-established peace between the United States and France, abrogated the 1778 treaty of alliance (the United States' first "entangling" alliance), restored captured naval vessels to each side, arranged for payments of debts, and re-affirmed the trade rights of neutral ships. As importantly, it restored friendly relations between the two nations, a condition that reaped great benefits less than three years later when the United States acquired the Louisiana Purchase from France. The Convention of Mortefontaine was negotiated between Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth, North Carolina Governor William R. Davie, and diplomat William Vans Murray of the United States and Joseph Buonaparte, Charles P. C. Fleurieu, and Pierre L. Roederer of the French Republic, and agreed to in late September 1800. The full text of the treaty appears in this newspaper broadsheet extra, dated December 24, 1800. It enumerates all twenty-seven articles of the treaty, and is signed in type by all six negotiators as well as the French Foreign Minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. This "Extra" issue of the SPY also prints the November 11 speech of King George III before the House of Lords, in which he comments on the treaty between the United States and France, and its potential effects on relations between England and her former colonies. The Convention of Mortefontaine, also known as the Convention of 1800 or the Treaty of Mortefontaine, signed on Sept. 30, 1800 and ratified and proclaimed the following year, was an important event in the course of relations between the United States and France. The two nations first signed a pair of treaties on Feb. 6, 1778 - one of alliance and the other of amity and commerce. They were the first treaties ever signed by the United States with a foreign power, and marked the recognition of the former British colonies as a legitimate nation. French military assistance during the Revolution, a result of the treaty of alliance, was a crucial factor in the achievement of American independence. In 1782 and 1783 further agreements were signed between the two nations regarding loans and credits, and in 1788 a convention was signed establishing the functions and privileges of consuls and vice-consuls. The 1790s brought a cooling of relations between France and the United States, largely due to the war being fought between France and Great Britain, and the American policy of neutrality in the conflict. Relations were further soured by the controversial actions of Edmund Genet, the French Minister to the United States, who commissioned American ships as privateers, established French prize courts in American ports, and sought to raise troops to attack British and Spanish holdings in North America. The Washington administration requested Genet's recall and the French government acceded, but the Jacobin faction in charge demanded the recall of the American minister to France, Gouverneur Morris, who was suspected of having royalist sympathies. Relations between the two nations continued to worsen over the following years. In 1796 the French government, angry over the American treaty with England of 1794 (Jay's Treaty) announced that they would treat American ships as they would British vessels, thus formally endorsing French privateering raids against American vessels. Shortly thereafter President Washington replaced James Monroe (who was considered pro-France) as minister to France with Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, whom the French government refused to acknowledge. All of these events came to a head in the so-called "Quasi-War" between the United States and France, and the diplomatic scandal known as the "XYZ Affair." The Quasi-War was an undeclared naval war between the two nations, fought between 1798 and 1800 mostly off the southern coast of the United States and in the Caribbean. The Federalists in Congress pushed President Adams to declare open war with France, and in July 1798, the Congress abrogated the 1778 Treaty of Amity with France. Adams also sought peace, however, sending three American commissioners to France in 1797 to re-establish good relations. The mission was a failure. Thomas Jefferson and the pro- French Democratic-Republicans called for the publication of the dispatches from the commissioners in an effort to undermine Adams, who they assumed was hiding the truth behind the mission. The dispatches, when released, revealed an attempt by the French to extort a large loan for the French government (upwards of $12 million), and it was revealed that agents of French Foreign Minister Talleyrand demanded bribes from the Americans to even permit talks to begin. In the dispatches, each of the French agents had been given letter designations: "X" for Baron Jean-Conrad Hottinguer, "Y" for Pierre Bellamy, and "Z" for Lucien Hauteval; hence the "XYZ Affair." This diplomatic catastrophe resulted in a political uproar in the United States. Conciliatory moves by Talleyrand encouraged President Adams to appoint another peace delegation to France in 1799, comprised of Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth, North Carolina Governor William Richardson Davie, and William Vans Murray, the American minister to the Netherlands. Ellsworth resigned as Chief Justice of the Court in order to take the assignment. Murray, stationed at the Hague, had already been meeting with the French envoy, Pichon, to repair relations. The American representatives presented their credentials to the new French First Consul, Napoleon, in March 1800, and negotiations commenced. They culminated in the Convention of Mortefontaine, signed on Sept. 30, 1800 in Paris. No copies of this printing of the text of the Convention of Mortefontaine are listed in OCLC, and the only comparable OCLC listing is for a "Supplement" issue of the COURIER newspaper (likely of Norwich, CT), also dated December 24, 1800, and located in only one copy, at the Connecticut Historical Society. A rare broadside extra transmitting the treaty that ended a notable diplomatic crisis between young America and the First French Republic, from the press of one of the most prominent printers in the history of the United States. Alexander DeConde, THE QUASI-WAR. THE POLITICS AND DIPLOMACY OF THE UNDECLARED WAR WITH FRANCE 1797-1801 (New York, 1966), pp.223-340. Peter P. Hill, WILLIAM VANS MURRAY, FEDERALIST DIPLOMAT. THE SHAPING OF PEACE WITH FRANCE 1797-1801 (Syracuse, N.Y., 1971), pp.161-204.