In 1792 the Girondin ministry decided to send Edmond Genet to the United States with plans to recruit western frontiersmen and invade Spanish Louisiana. The episode is well known in American history, but the literature on its French origin is sparse and overemphasizes the contribution of revolutionary leader Jacques- Pierre Brissot. This essay contextualizes the French decision within the debate between Brissot, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pierre Lebrun, and General Charles-François Dumouriez over whether France should send troops against Spanish colonies in South America. The essay argues that Lebrun promoted the western scheme in order to attack Spanish interests without straining French resources. Rather than merely embodying a spirit of universal freedom, Lebrun’s plan was grounded in the geopolitical advantages the mission might afford France in its European wars.

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