Free Shipping on orders over $25

  • This item is temporarily unavailable via the Norton website, but it can be ordered through your favorite bookseller or online retailer.
  • Contact your Rep

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $18.95
  • March 1973
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-09420-6
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

The Genet Mission

Norton Essays in American History


See all options and formats starting at

Harry Ammon (Author), Harold M. Hyman (General Editor)


Few episodes in the history of American foreign relations are as fascinating as the mission of Edmund Genet, the first minister sent to the United States from the new French Republic. Genet arrived in 1793, anxious to win support for France against Britain and other “enemies of republicanism.” However, within months after his arrival, his confrontations with the Washington administration brought relations between the two countries almost to the point of rupture.

While Genet had considerable shortcomings as a diplomat, more important was his inability to accept the irreconcilable differences between the two countries, particularly in their commitment to popular sovereignty and the doctrine of the rights of man. In addition, neither Genet nor his government understood the nature or power of the presidency; in his efforts to win popular support for the French cause, Genet provoked Washington and his cabinet, and the administration eventually demanded the minister’s recall. While the mission ended in failure, the public controversy stirred up by Genet constituted a vital step in the formation of the first political parties in the United States. The debate over his demands, which involved common people to an unprecedented degree, led to the infusion of a more democratic strain into the political process, long dominated by an elite leadership.