Chapter 14: The Retrocession
In July, 1797, eight months before Godoy's retirement from power at Madrid, Talleyrand became Minister for Foreign Affairs to the French Directory. If the Prince of Peace was man of no morals, the ex-Bishop of Autun was one of no morality. Colder than Pitt, and hardly less corrupt than Godoy, he held theories in regard to the United States which differed from those of other European statesmen only in being more aggressive. Chateaubriand once said, "When M. Talleyrand is not conspiring, he traffics." The epigram was not an unfair description of Talleyrand's behavior toward the United States. He had wandered through America in the year 1794, and found there but one congenial spirit. "Hamilton avait deviné l'Europe," was his phrase: Hamilton had felt by instinct the problem of European conservatives. After returning from America and obtaining readmission to France, Talleyrand made almost his only appearance as an author by reading to the Institute, in April 1797, a memoir upon America and the Colonial System. This paper was the clew to his
- Mémoire, etc., lu à l'Institut National le 15 Germinal, An v. (April 4, 1797).