John Adams


What was the XYZ Affair?

The XYZ Affair refers to a failed peace mission between three American envoys (Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry) and three agents of the French foreign minister Talleyrand (Jean Conrad Hottinger, Pierre Bellamy, and Lucien Hauteval). Talleyrand instructed his three envoys to refuse negotiations with the American envoys unless Talleyrand received a personal payment (in actuality, a bribe) of $25,000 and a loan of $10 million to France. The three Americans refused and negotiations ended, exacerbating tensions between the two countries. Adams later referred to the three French agents as X, Y, and Z.


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