In 1806, the compromised reality of the American Revolution was thrown into sharp contrast - whilst President James Monroe's High Representative William Pinkney conducted negotiations in London to renew the Jay Treaty, his predecessor, the "philantropic cock" Thomas Jefferson was across the English Channel enjoying Parisian Society with his common law mixed race wife, Sally Hemings.
Philanthropic Cock by Ed, Scott Palter, Raymond Speer and Eric LippsUnderstanding that the infant republic needed at least two decades of peace in order to survive, George Washington had risked his reputation as a patriot by approving the original ten-year treaty with Great Britain. Now, more important than a simple renewal was the need to resolve differences over the issue of impressment of American sailors from US ships and neutral trading rights. Because in acquiesing to American independence, it was now clear that Great Britain's cynical ploy was to give away the cake whilst keeping the cream.
Agreement seemed possible if not likely, because the British Prime Minister Lord Grenville and his "Ministry of All the Talents" believed that the US Navy was partly manned by British deserters who were desperately needed to fight Napoleon. Accordingly, Grenville ordered Lord Holland and Lord Auckland to cut a deal with Pinkney. Trouble was, that whilst President James Monroe approved the treaty, the US Senate rejected it, and the result was the War of 1812.
The political crisis created by the Senates rejection might of course been avoided had Thomas Jefferson served a second term, because he would never have approved the treaty in the first place. However he had claimed to be exhausted by the complexities of the Louisiana Purchase and the misbehavior of Aaron Burr.
In reality, Jefferson was hugely frustrated with the development of the American revolution which had become a more of a worldly struggle for survival than the building of the egalitarian society that he had dreamt of. In fact, the American Revolution had stopped, and there was little to interest a mental giant in business as usual.
Of course Jefferson's frustration had begun at the very outset. Not only had his bold anti-slavery statement been disgracefully removed from the Declaration of Independence, he had resigned from Washington's government to spend more time with Hemings, and later faced the scandal of this affair in the mainstream press during his political comeback.
But in a larger sense, Jefferson wanted the American Revolution to have the transformative energy of its French equivalent. Having served as a diplomat in Paris, he had experienced the freedom of living with Hemings in a way not possible in the States. Soon after Monroe's inauguration, Jefferson and Hemings sold up Montecello, freed his slaves and left America forever.
Without knowing it, Jefferson had started the African-American Revolution which ironically, was a transformative process more attuned to his own thinking.