George Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality
The French Revolution divided the newly founded country of the United States of America. The country needed to pick a side between the French and the English. The Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton wanted to keep ties with Britain for economic reasons. The Minister to France Thomas Jefferson felt that they were obligated to help France after what they did for the United States during the American Revolution.1
While Hamilton and Jefferson each had their own side with many supporters behind them, President George Washington decided to make America neutral in the war between Britain and France. In April of 1793, President Washington issued a proclamation of neutrality.1 President Washington felt that neutrality was the best option for the foreign affairs of the United States so that it could grow and then later become a powerful nation.
The French Revolution did not involve only Britain and France. Both countries had allies. The countries involved in the war needed natural resources to supply their part in the war. The United States was a big country even with only 13 states at the time. This land was also not inhabited as much as some other European countries. This made the United States a threshold for natural resources. This was great for American trading with other countries that needed resources for the war. If the United States were to pick an ally, they would cut off trade with either France or Britain and each of those countries’ allies. This would cause a huge lose in trading and not help the country grow and get out of its own debt from their own revolution.
At the time of the French Revolution, the United States was still a young country. War is very expensive to be a part of. The United Sates just came out of their own revolutionary war and needed to pay off the debt of it. They wouldn’t be able to afford financing another war. Wars also create enemies. The United States would not want to start its first three decades creating more enemies then they had to.
This could cause economic strains between other countries and could be problematic in any future conflicts. If the United States joined either Britain or France, there could have been many political and economical strains that could have still existed today. For example, because of the potential tensions between the US and France or the US and Britain, the US would not have joined the World Wars and the end result could have been much different. The United States was too much in debt and to young to finance a war and to make new enemies with other countries.
The United States had some of their own issues to resolve in their own country. They had to deal with the Louisiana Purchase that involved buying a third of the continent of North America for $15 million from France.1 They also had to deal with the Alien and Sedition Acts. These acts were to try and silence the republicans on the decisions of George Washington and John Adams and to try to limit the amount of immigrants coming into the country.1 They couldn’t waste their time and money with war when they had to deal with their own internal affairs to build their country into a world super power.
The United States is among the youngest countries in the world and is one of the most powerful. Since President Washington issued the proclamation of Neutrality in 1793, and up to the World Wars, America has tried to stay out of most conflicts. There may have been good reasons to join either Britain or France in their affairs, but the United States was just too young to join the war of the French Revolution and did not have the funds to grow and become the country that it is today.