The Adams Administration
The first half of President John Adams's administration was dominated by foreign policy concerns. The French government was quite unhappy with Adams's 1796 victory, and it responded by increasing its attacks upon American shipping. Adams called Congress into session earlier than usual to consult about how to deal with France, and SOS Pickering reported to them on 6/1/1797 that the French had already seized 300 US ships. Congress responded by ordering the construction of three frigates (the Constitution, United States, and the Constellation). While the Federalists in Congress called for war against France, Adams sent a delegation to Paris for a last chance at negotiations. The three men were Charles C. Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry. When they arrived in Paris on 10/18/1797, a three-man delegation from the French government (called Mr. X, Mr. Y, and Mr. Z) met them and demanded a bribe of $240,000 and a loan to the French treasury. The three Americans refused the XYZ bribe effort; Gerry remained in France while the two others returned for additional guidance from Pres. Adams.
In the meantime, Congress continued its preparations. It strengthened the army and created the Department of the Navy on 4/30/1798. Pro-war Federalists complained about the lack of progress by the Adams administration in forcing France to back down on attacks on shipping. As a result, these extreme Federalists passed a series of four acts in t