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Adet, Pierre Augustus, 1763-1832

French diplomatist; born in Nevers in 1763. He was ambassador to the United States in 1795-97. Here he interfered too much in local politics, and became unpopular with the government party. He issued an inflammatory address to the American people, in which he accused the administration of Washington with violations of the friendship which once existed between the United States and France. On Nov. 5, 1796, he issued the famous “cockade” proclamation, or order. calling upon all Frenchmen in the United States, in the name of the French Directory, to mount and wear the tricolored cockade, “the symbol of a liberty the fruit of eight years toil and five years victories.” Adet declared in his proclamation that any Frenchman who might hesitate to give this indication of adherence to the republic should not be allowed the aid of the French consular chanceries or the national protection. The tricolored cockade was at once mounted, not only by the French residents, but by many American citizens who wished to signify in this marked manner their attachment to the French Republic. This Cockade proclamation, as the Federalists called it in derision, was the origin of the practice, for several years, of wearing a cockade as a badge of party distinction.

Ten days after the issuance of this proclamation he sent a note simultaneously to the State Department and to the Aurora--the opposition newspaper — demanding, “in the name of the faith of treaties and of American honor, the execution of that contract [treaty of 1778] which assured to the United States their existence, and which France regarded as a pledge of the most sacred union between two people, the freest upon earth.” He announced, at the same time, “the resolution of a government terrible to its enemies, but generous to its allies.” With grandiloquent sentences he portrayed the disappointment of the French nation in not finding a warm friend in the American government. “So far from offering the French the succor which friendship might have given.” he said, “without compromitting itself, the American government, in this respect, violated the obligations of treaties.” This was followed by a summary of these alleged violations, including the circular of 1793. restraining the fitting-out of privateers in American waters; the law of 1794, prohibiting hostile enterprises or preparations against nations with whom the United States were at peace: the cognizance of these matters taken by the American courts of law; and the admission of armed British vessels into American waters. He complained of the “British treaty” as inimical to the interests of France. This paper. published in the Aurora, was intended more for the American people than for the American government. While in the United States he was a busy partisan of the Republicans. In 1796 he presented to Congress. in behalf of the French nation, the tricolored flag of France; and just before he left, in 1797. he sent to the Secretary of State the famous note in which the Directory. contrary to the spirit of the treat of 1778. declared that the flag of the republic would treat all neutral flags as they permitted themselves to be treated by the English. Soon afterwards Adet suspended his diplomatic functions and returned to France. where he died in 1832.

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