The treaty improved U.S.-British relations. France, interpreting the treaty as a newly formed alliance between the United States and an old enemy, retaliated by ordering the seizure of American ships carrying British goods. This plunged Adams into aforeign crisis that lasted for the duration of his administration.
Adams's presidency was consumed with problems that arose from the French Revolution, which had also been true for his predecessor. Initially popular with virtually all Americans, the French Revolution began to arouse concerns among the most conservative in the United States after the excesses that commenced in 1792. The King and Queen (Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette) were executed, attempts at de-Christianization occurred, numerous foes of the Revolution—especially aristocrats and monarchists—were executed in the September Massacre (1792) and the Reign of Terror (1793-1794), and the revolutionary leadership moved toward social leveling that would end historic class privileges and distinctions between the social classes. Adams had observed the coming of the French Revolution while living in France and Great Britain, and he immediately realized its potential for terror and anarchy. His skepticism was confirmed.