XYZ Affair

In 1797, President Adams labored to defuse growing tensions with France by sending two new diplomats, John Marshall and Elbridge Gerry, to join C.C. Pinckney in Paris. The French foreign minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, kept the American mission waiting for weeks, then deployed agents (designated X, Y and Z by the Americans) to demand a $250,000 bribe for himself and a $12 million loan for France. Bribery was standard diplomatic fare at the time, but the amount was deemed exorbitant.

C.C. Pinckney is said to have expressed his dismay by stating either, "No, no, not a sixpence!" or "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute."

Negotiations broke down and undeclared war broke out between France and the United States. There were few actual engagements, limited to a few incidents at sea, and peace was restored through the Convention of 1800, also known as the Treaty of Morfontaine.