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Edmond Charles Genest

GENEST, Edmond Charles, diplomatist, born in Versailles, France, 8 January 1765; died in Schodac, Rensselaer County, New York, 14 July, 1834. Although he had been brought up at the French court, and although his sisters, Madame Auguie and Madame Campan, were in the service of Marie-Antoinette, he early attracted attention by his republican opinions. He was sent, in 1789, as charge d'affaires to St. Petersburg, where his situation soon became uncomfortable, and in 1791 he was informed by Count Ostermann, the minister of Catherine II., that he had better not appear again at court, in view of the excitement then existing in France. He remained in Russia until July of the year following, when he received his passports. On his return to France he was appointed minister to Holland, but before he could proceed thither he was accredited to the United States in December, 1792. He reached Charleston, South Carolina, in April, 1793, was cordially welcomed, and in the following month had a formal reception in Philadelphia, where he was presented by the citizens with an address congratulating France on obtaining the freedom she had helped the United States to secure. Encouraged by these demonstrations of popular feeling, Genest thought he could easily persuade the American people to espouse the cause of his country, notwithstanding Washington's recently issued proclamation of neutrality, he openly maintained that the United States were in duty bound to side with France against England, and bitterly denounced the American government for want of sympathy with the young republic. He even went so far as to issue commissions to privateers, and ordered that their prizes should be tried and condemned by French consuls in the United States. He also planned hostile expeditions against Florida and Louisiana, which were then colonies of Spain. In consequence of these, imprudent measures, Washington demanded and obtained his recall. Genest, however, decided not to return to France, but was naturalized and settled in the state of New York, where he married first a daughter of Governor George Clinton, and afterward a Miss Osgood. In his adopted country he took great interest in promoting improvements in agriculture and in the arts and sciences. At the age of twelve he translated the "Histoire d'Eric XIV., roi de Suede," from the Swedish of Celsius, for which he received a gold medal from Gustavus III. (Paris, 1777). He also translated from the same language Nicholas Idman's treatise on the Finns and their language (Strasburg, 1778).

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