Why was XYZ affair important?
It was in 1778 when America and France formed an alliance. The international relation of the two countries never brought any dispute until a certain bribe was made. XYZ affair is an event in history that was considered controversial yet important. It caused the diplomatic relations between America and France to come to an end but later got resolved because of further negotiations.
The conflict between France and US started when the United States did not take France’s side in the British-French war. It even got worse when Federalists ruled the US and President Washington did not allow French to use the US port. This caused the French to attack the American ships. John Adams, the next elected president that time search for diplomats to negotiate with France. He sent Pinckney, Marshall, and Gerry to meet the foreign minister.
The three US diplomats went to France but Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, the French foreign minister refused to meet them. Instead, he sent 3 agents named X,Y,Z. This is how X,Y,Z affair started. It was not a peaceful negotiation because X,Y,Z French agents also known as Jean Conrad Hottingeur, Pierre Bellamy and Laucien Hauteval demanded a bribe of $250,000 and a $10 million from the United States in lieu to stop attacking the US ships. This angered the diplomats because they would rather pay an expensive war rather than pay France the bribe. Pinckney told the French representatives Millions for defense, sir, but not one cent for tribute.
The XYZ affair became an uproar among Americans because they were not treated seriously during the negotiation.
The Naval War also known as Quasi-war became intense so to avoid further conflict, President Adam negotiated again with the French. The Treaty of Mortefontaine (Convention of 1800) settled the conflict.
The XYZ affair was an important event in US history because it was a proof that the United States wanted respect. The affair is also one way to tell the world that the United States does not exchange peace for money.