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Sotomayor 1

Isaac Sotomayor
Prof. Johnston
History 7A #32194
26 April 2018
Document Interpretation 4: "Hamilton and Jefferson", & The Masters Class

On April 22 of 1793, George Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality declared the

disposition of the United States of America as neutral in regard to the French Revolution. The

belligerent (aggressive) nations would be Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, and the

United Netherlands on one side, and the French on the other. The French having aided The States

in their own Revolution, would have expected and received favorable support from American

citizens. The French Revolution would be known as the “war of all peoples against all kings”, of

which Americans were no stranger to fighting off the rule of a King (Brands 166). The prospect

of neutrality is a challenging one, as America was still in its infancy, thus the more powerful

countries would quickly challenge it (Brands 166). America’s position one shipping would be

“free ships make free goods, which would mean the belligerents would not interfere with these

ships, but the powerful nation would not respect this position and would try to influence America

to their respective cause (Brands 166/7).

George Washington’s decision to declare neutrality was one where he understood the

position of the United States as being one of growth. The country was still building upon itself

since the successful revolution and to enter into another war so readily would have been

irresponsible. The opinions of some would be towards a sense of debt to the French, but leaders

such as Hamilton and Jefferson would echo the need to avoid war due to economic reasons

(Brands 167).
Sotomayor 2

George Washington was the first president, but he was also a military leader, albeit not a

very talented one. As a military leader, it would make sense that he would look upon what the

United States would be encumbering itself with on a military scale, but he also had a capable

cabinet and leaders such as Hamilton and Jefferson would surely reinforce his ultimate decision.

The document served its purpose in that it did not forbid citizens from picking a side, but it also

did not support them. If citizens were to involve themselves, it would be them as individuals and

the United States would not be held liable.