The Quasi-War was an undeclared naval war between the U.S and France during the period 1798 to 1800. It was the outcome of the treaties which have been disagreed over and America's neutral position in the Wars of the French Revolution. The war is fought entirely at sea. The US Navy vessels captured numerous French warships and privateers.
Causes of Quasi-War
The most important cause of the Quasi-War was the signing of the Jay Treaty between United States and the Great Britain in the year 1794. This treaty was a commercial agreement but the French viewed the treaty as a violation of the Treaty of Alliance that was signed in the year 1778 with the American colonists. They also assumed that United States was favoring Britain even though they declared neutrality in the Anglo-French War. Thus, after the Jay Treaty was signed the French began capturing the American ships that traded with Britain. Finally in 1796, the French refused to accept the US minister in Paris.
In April 1798, tensions reached their peak when President John Adams shared the XYZ affair with
the Congress. The year before that, Adams had sent a delegation to Paris to prevent war and
to negotiate the terms of peace between the two nations. However, on arriving in France the
delegations were informed by three French agents that the French foreign minister Charles Maurice
de Talleyrand has refused to meet them in three separate reports named as X, Y and Z. They further
reported that the minister will meet only if large bribes are paid, or loans are given for the French
effort in the war. The minister also wanted Adams to apologize for making Anti-French statements.
But, the Americans agents refused to give in and they returned home.
After the XYZ affair, the active operation began. It transformed the attitude of the colonists against the French. The French continued to capture American merchant ships. On 7 th July, 1798 Congress dismissed all treaties signed with the French government. The US navy was asked to destroy all the French war ships and privateers that were working against the American commerce industry. About 30 US navy warships began patrolling the seas on the southern coast and throughout the Caribbean Sea. The first success came soon when the USS Delaware captured the French privateer La Croyable off the coast of New Jersey on 7th July. During the first year about 300 American merchantmen were captured by the French. But the next years saw the US vessels defeating French privateers and warships. USS Enterprise and USS Experiment had a lot of successes. On 11th May, 1800 USS Constitution captured the French privateer Puerto Plata. Led by Lt. Isaac Hull, the US vessel took the ship and spiked the guns in the fort.
During the entire war, America lost only one warship to the French. The destroyed La Croyable had been purchased into the service and was renamed as USS Retaliation. Sailing with other warships USS Retaliation was ordered to survey the West Indies. ON 20th November when the consorts were away on a chase, Retaliation was recaptured by the French frigates. Lt. William Bainbridge was badly outgunned and had no choice and surrendered. The ship was later recaptured by USS Merrimack.
Finally, The Convention of 1800 was signed on 30th September which ended the Franco-American war. Also, new treaties and agreements were signed and trade relations established between the two nations.