Jay's treaty caused general dissatisfaction, but as the end of Washington's second administration approached, it was evident that marked progress had been made in other fields. The government had been organized, national credit established, maritime commerce fostered, the Northwest Territory recovered, and peace preserved.
Washington retired in 1797, firmly declining to serve for more than eight years at the nation's head. His Vice President, John Adams of Massachusetts, was elected the new President. Even before he entered the Presidency, Adams had quarreled with Alexander Hamilton - who had contributed much to the previous administration - and thus was handicapped by a divided party. These domestic difficulties were compounded by international complications: France, angered by Jay's recent treaty with Britain, refused to accept Adams' minister. When Adams sent three other commissioners to Paris, and they too were rejected, American indignation rose to an excited pitch. Troops were enlisted, the navy was strengthened, and, in 1799, after a series of sea battles with the French in which American ships were victorious, war seemed inescapable. In this crisis, Adams thrust aside the guidance of Hamilton, who wanted war, and sent a new minister to France. Napoleon, who had just come to power, received him cordially and the danger of conflict subsided.