In 1778, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between France and the United States established the rights of both to appoint diplomats and agents in ports, with their functions to be described in a separate agreement. After lengthy discussions and negotiations over the course of years, that agreement came in the form of the Consular Convention of 1788. Americans feared that diplomats would in effect be spies, and that they would be beyond the reach of local enforcement, whereas the French were more concerned with commerce and trade than politcs. (Boyd, Ed., 14 The Papers of Thomas Jefferson 62-68)
The following article from the Columbian Mirror and Alexandria Gazette of September 17, 1795 shows that the French consul in Alexandria was very conscious of this mindset; he is responding to a piece from the August 15 edition of the paper and quotes from the Consular Convention text to underscore his point.
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