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James Monroe to George Washington

March 24, 1796

Franco-American relations quickly deteriorated following the signing of the Jay Treaty by the United States and Britain in 1794. This controversial agreement settled several unresolved disputes between the two nations, but it angered the new French revolutionary government which was then waging war with Britain. In this letter, partially written in numeric cipher, James Monroe, the American Minister in France, warns Washington that the French have intercepted the President's correspondence expressing his approval of the contentious treaty. Monroe would be recalled from France in September 1796. In July 1798, the United States rescinded all treaties with its former ally, thus beginning the undeclared "Quasi-War."

(Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association)