Thomas Jefferson: The Patriot Act of the 18th Century

Nations sometimes lose their bearings when confronted by an enemy. In a state of crisis or even panic, they implement measures that are later viewed as regrettable. From 1798 to 1800, the French were considered terrorists, pirating ships and making things uncomfortable for the fledgling American republic. The Federalist Party led a backlash against the French, and Thomas Jefferson and his Republican Party were seen as Francophiles. The XYZ Affair--a scandal centering on the fact that some French officials demanded bribes from American diplomats--brought relations between France and the U.S. to the breaking point. The Federalist Administration of President John Adams...

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