The Continental Marine Corps was disbanded after American victory in the Revolutionary War. Predation by Barbary corsairs, and conflicts with the French Revolutionary Navy caused Congress to re-establish both the Navy and the Marine Corps. On July 11, 1798, President Adams signed the Act re-establishing the Corp: Continue Reading
It is sometimes contended that in order for the US to legally use armed force against an adversary, a declaration of war is required. The weakness in this argument is that the Constitution does not set forth what constitutes a declaration of war. Throughout US history Congress has felt free to authorize the use of force without using the language contained in Congressional declarations of war. The first Congressional authorization for the use of force was at the outset of the Quasi War with France. The text of the Congressional authorization of force was as follows: Continue Reading
“Millions for defense, but not a cent for tribute!”
Robert Goodloe Harper
June 18, 1798
Robert Goodloe Harper was only 15 years old when he volunteered to fight in the American Revolution in 1780 in a cavalry unit raised to combat the British in the Southern Campaign. After the War he studied law and went into politics in South Carolina where he was elected a Congressman for several terms in the 1790s. Becoming Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee he uttered his famous statement during the XYZ affair.
To resolve disputes with France that had developed over attempts by the French to interdict American trade with Britain, President John Adams sent negotiators to France in 1797 under Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Revolutionary War veteran and signer of the US Constitution. Pinckney was a hard core American patriot. During the Revolutionary War after the siege of Charleston in 1780 he was taken prisoner by the British along with 5,000 other American troops, and kept up the spirits of his fellow prisoners. He never wavered in his faith in ultimate American victory, uttering this phrase which reflected his entire life: “If I had a vein that did not beat with the love of my Country, I myself would open it. If I had a drop of blood that could flow dishonorable, I myself would let it out.”
In France for the negotiations he encountered the French foreign minister, Charles Maurice de Tallyrand, an apostate Bishop, who Napoleon once aptly described as, freely translated, “Dung in a silk stocking.” Talleyrand demanded bribes for himself and other French officials. An outraged Pinckney responded, “No, no, not a sixpence!” Continue Reading