Portrait of John Adams.

John Adams was President during the Quasi-War with France.

Quasi-War External Links

July 7, 1798–September 30, 1800

External Links for Quasi-War

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The XYZ Affair and the Quasi-War with France, 1798-1800

...Adams continued preparations for war, but did not venture to openly declare war. Talleyrand, realizing his blunder, attempted to restore relations, and Congress approved a commission to negotiate an agreement with the French government. In the meantime, the U.S. Navy began to fight the French in the Caribbean, while offering support to Toussaint L'Ouverture in Haiti. In 1799, Congress also passed the Logan Act in response to the visit of a pacifist Quaker, George Logan, who conducted negotiations with Talleyrand as a private citizen and returned to the United States announcing Talleyrand's peaceful intentions. The Logan Act criminalized unauthorized diplomatic negotiations.

Quasi-War with France 1798-1801

In this quasi-war the new U.S. Navy received its baptism of fire. Captain Thomas Truxtun's insistence on the highest standards of crew training paid handsome dividends as the frigate Constellation won two complete victories over French men-of-war. U.S. naval squadrons, operating principally in West Indian waters, sought out and attacked enemy privateers until France agreed to an honorable settlement.

Old Ironsides' Battle Record: Documents of USS Constitution's Illustrious Deeds

She first went to sea to defend the rights of American seamen and merchants. By the end of the eighteenth century, French privateers were seizing merchant vessels bound for England in an attempt to injure the trade of their enemy. The Quasi War between the French and the Americans was waged from 1797 to 1801 in the Atlantic and the West Indies. The French sought to capture American ships, while the U.S. Navy protected American merchants and hunted down French privateers. The capture of the Sandwich in port by the crew of Constitution is an especially daring exploit of this quasi-war.

The Quasi-War: America's First Conflict

The Quasi-War was officially fought from July 7, 1798, until the signing of the Treaty of Mortefontaine on September 30, 1800. French privateers had been preying on American shipping for several years prior to the beginning of the conflict.

The Reestablishment of the Navy, 1787-1801

The President approved six construction sites: Portsmouth, N.H.; Boston, Mass.; New York, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Baltimore, Md.; and Gosport (Norfolk), Va. At each site, a civilian naval constructor was hired to direct the work. Navy captains were appointed as superintendents, one for each of the six frigates. John Barry, last officer of the Continental Navy in active service, received commission number one as first officer in the new United States Navy.

The Quasi War with France

The Quasi War with France lasted from 1798 to 1800. By summer of 1798, the threat of war had become a reality after the United States took formal steps of military preparation that were soon followed by fighting on the high seas. On May 3, 1798, Washington was called back to command the army and a navy department was established. Acts passed by the United States Congress during the Quasi War included “An Act to Suspend the Commercial Intercourse between the United States and France, and the Dependencies Thereof” on June 13, 1798, “An Act to Authorize the Defense of the Merchant Vessels of the United States against French Depredations” on June 25, 1798, “An Act to Declare the Treaties Heretofore Concluded with France, no Longer Obligatory on the United States” on July 7, 1798, An Act Further to Protect the Commerce of the United States on July 9, 1798, and An Act to Amend the Act Entitled "An Act to suspend the Commercial Intercourse between the United States and France, and the Dependencies Thereof." on July 16, 1798. These Acts of 1798 represent the legalistic aspect of the conflict. The formal military engagements began in the Fall of that year.

Quasi War with France 1791-1800

A selection of letters and documents related to the Quasi-War with France.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Quasi-War External Links
  • Coverage July 7, 1798–September 30, 1800
  • Author
  • Keywords quasi-war (1798--1800), undeclared naval war with france, john adams
  • Website Name American History Central
  • URL
  • Access Date March 29, 2020
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 21, 2019

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