On April 8, 1793, Edmond Charles “Citizen” Genet arrived in America at the port of Charleston, South Carolina, as an official representative from the French Republic. He had with him this wool coat, embellished with gold thread embroidery. Badges commemorating the French Revolution of 1789 and the Paris Revolution of 1830 were added later.
Genet was sent to America by France’s Revolutionary government, controlled at the time by the Girondists, a pro-republic faction, to seek support for France’s war against Great Britain and Spain. George Washington’s declaration of neutrality, however, prevented the United States from aiding the French. Genet took matters into his own hands and commandeered ships in Charleston before reporting to George Washington in Philadelphia. By the time Genet reached Philadelphia, officials condemned him for his injudicious involvement in American politics. Washington demanded his recall. Since the more radical Jacobins had gained power in France, Genet knew his return would ultimately end in his death. He appealed and Washington granted him asylum. Genet moved to East Greenbush, New York, and in 1794 married Cornelia Clinton, the daughter of New York governor George Clinton.