Early Presidential Problems

What problems did early Presidents have?

French Problems

After the American Revolution the French were inspired to rebel against their own government. Because the French had helped the U.S. during their revolution, they expected us to help them out. President Washington had to choose between their alliance with France and their treaty with Great Britain. This had to be a hard time for Washington because of this hard decision. He ended up choosing to let the French fight their own war. This caused more problems between the French and U.S. which was especially hard on Washington.

More French Problems

When the U.S. got the British out of the Ohio River Valley, the French got angry because they thought it went against their treaty with America. Because of this the French started to attack the U.S. merchant ships. President Adams sent three representatives to see the French foreign minister, but he refused to talk to them so he sent three secret agents to meet them and tell them that they would not stop attacking until they give them a large amount of money as tribute. This had to be hard for Adams, he had to choose between giving in to the French power and risking starting another war with the French. Choices are always hard and Adams chose to start a "half war" with the French. They captured more than 80 ships and then the French stopped attacking.


While the U.S. was fighting with the French, pirates or sea robbers were also taking advantage of the American merchant ships. These pirates came from the Barbary States, which included Morocco, Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis. Both Adams and Washington were sending money to these states as tribute but the President of Tripoli demanded more so he declared war. Jefferson (President at the time) had to decide to go to war or pay tribute and he hated both. Although Jefferson hated war he hated paying tribute more so he accepted war.