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In 1793, barely four years after George Washington took office as the first president of the United States of America, a neutrality crisis threatened to plunge the young nation into an international war.

Following the execution of King Louis XVI by French revolutionaries, and their subsequent declaration of war on Great Britain, George Washington was faced with an almost impossible decision. He could either enforce strict, American neutrality in the coming conflict, or risk a costly war that could destroy the young nation. 

Author Interviews

Historians David and Jeanne Heidler on Neutrality

Neutrality Proclamation of 1793

Issued on April 22, 1793, George Washington's proclamation of neutrality outlined what proved to be a controversial stance on international diplomacy. Read more about the proclamation, and the firestorm it sparked.  

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Debating Neutrality

Both writing under pseudonyms, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison debated Washington's neutrality proclamation in a series of letters published in the Gazette of the United States.

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Presidential Diplomacy

Learn more about the other diplomatic challenges that faced George Washington during his two terms as the first president of the United States.  

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Washington's Cabinet

Learn more about the cabinet members who advised Washington during some of the most trying times of his presidency.  

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The Genet Affair

Should the United States intervene in the French Republic’s war with Great Britain and what constituted “neutrality” under young American laws?

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Washington vs. Jefferson

Discover how Washington's policy of neutrality affected the relationship between the two most famous founding fathers.

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George Washington's Presidency

Learn more about the challenges Washington faced throughout two terms as America's first president, and the precedents that defined his presidency.

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