IN spite of domestic affliction, of bewildering finances, of educational dogmas, Burr hewed vigorously to the line of his chosen profession -- politics.
The Third Congress opened in Philadelphia on December 2, 1793, amidst scenes of domestic passion and foreign muddlements. The French Revolution had been hailed by those of the budding Republican persuasion with ardent sympathy and unexampled enthusiasm. Burr from the very first thought it the beginning of a new era in the history of the world's enlightenment. The Federalists viewed the hysteria, however, with jaundiced eyes. They had triumphed over certain tendencies to radicalism in the United States, and the unfettered forces that rode the Revolution were seemingly oblivious to all settled property rights. The Federalists much preferred the British system, and turned naturally to England as the haven of all sound conservatism. It was to be pro-French against pro-English as much as South against North, agrarian against industrialist.
The shipping interests of New England had built up a flourishing trade with England, and the war which broke out between France and Great Britain in 1793 brought the United States headlong into the welter of European politics. For one thing, American commerce was bound to suffer as a result of the war. For another, the United States was still formally the ally of France, and had guaranteed the independence of the French West Indies, now subject to imminent attack by the English Navy.
Washington desired no war and proclaimed neutrality in the European struggle on April 22, 1793. Meanwhile Citizen Genêt had landed in America as the representative of the Revolutionary French Government. He was without doubt the worst possible diplomat that the French could have accredited to the United States. It was his duty, he thought, to dragoon the laggard country into war immediately on the side of his beloved France, and he proceeded to effect it by the most violent and open propaganda,