In 1793, when "Citizen" Genêt informed General Washington of inappropriate remarks made in private by Thomas Jefferson the President had no choice by to summarily dismiss his Secretary of State for a serious breach of political integrity.
How the French Connection destroyed the duplicitious career of Thomas JeffersonUltimately the outbreak of the Anglo-French War would force the President to make a Proclaimation of Neutrality denying support to Revolutionary France in spite of the crucial role that France had played in America's own Revolution. But where Washington and the pro-British Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton saw a looming threat of American involvement, the anti-Federalists "Generalissimo" Jefferson and "General" James Madison saw a popular opportunity to strike a blow for the Democratic-Republican Party.
The political question of American foreign policy was of course a matter of fierce debate, both in public, and also in private with both Hamilton and Madison publishing articles under the pseudonyms of Pacifus and Helvidius. But even the exposure of those intrigues would not have led to a split in the Cabinet - that required the arrival of Citizen Genêt (pictured) in early April.
At least in the overfertile imagination of Jefferson and Madison, if not in fact, the American public was overwhelmingly in support of the French Government, both for fighting the hated British, and for launching their own bid for liberty. Regardless the arrival of French Ambassador Edmond-Charles Genêt was over-enthusiastically toasted by the senior members of the Federal Government, encouraging Jefferson to declare the rekindling of the spirit of '76.
Because he had served as the American Ambassador to France for almost a decade, Jefferson not only had an extremely developed sense of empathy, he saw Genêt as a junior protege. Perhaps this intimacy encouraged him to excuse "The Terror" with the observation that "My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is". It was this ill-disciplined comment that enraged Washington, convincing him that Jefferson was the most dangerous man in America.