Letitia Hall, "Threshold of a Century: the Diary of Louisa Adams Park, 1800-1801"


Peace with France did not come quickly. It took months for the envoys to reach Paris, months to negotiate, and then months to travel home. In the meantime, French privateers sailing out of the islands of Guadalupe and Puerto Rico continued to seize American merchant ships. The "Navy News" and "Maritime Intelligence" columns in the Centinel tracked the progress of the war in the Caribbean. Editor Benjamin Russell lost no opportunity to take a jab at France's supporters, or to praise the tiny U. S. Navy. In March, for instance, he wrote, "The Fanny, of Portsmouth, was February 12 plundered by a French privateer from Porto Rico. Do the kind apologists for Frenchmen ever read these paragraphs?" Then, later that month, Russell wrote:

The property of the citizens of the United ‘States , which crossed the Ocean in 1799 is Estimated as ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY MILLIONS of Dollars. It is not erring, to say, our Navy has prevented one quarter of this immense sum falling into the hands of the French, and other freebooters. – No wonder the Democrats and Jacobins are wishing the annihilation of our armed vessels! No wonder they curse our honest tars and berate our intrepid commanders! The Cause is thus developed.10
Still Louisa hoped for peace. She wrote to John, "Don't tell me of staying out a year. Peace with France will bring you home before August, without a doubt."11

A treaty with France would bring John home, but the treaty that finally arrived was not favored by the United States government. The Adams administration objected to clauses regarding reparations for private ships taken in the war. The sale by privateers of captured American ships could continue until the ratified treaty was returned to Paris, with potentially huge financial losses to New England's shipping interests. Furthermore, the United States did not have enough money to reimburse France for ships taken by American forces, and many

10. Columbian Centinel, Wednesday, March 12, 1800 and Saturday, March 22, 1800. Emphases are from the original.
11. Park, to John Park, May 21, 1800.
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