Genest (in this country commonly written Genet), Edmond Charles, a French diplomatist, born in Versailles, Jan. 8,1765, died at Schodack, Rensselaer co., N. Y., July 14,1834. Although his father was attached to the court and his sister, Mme. Campan, was in the service of Marie Antoinette, he made himself known by his republican opinions. In April, 1789, he was appointed charge d'affaires to the court of St. Petersburg, where his situation soon became uncomfortable; in 1791 he was informed by Count Ostermann, minister of Catharine II. that he would better not appear again at the court; and in July, 1792, he was formally dismissed. On his return to France he was appointed ambassador to Holland; but before going thither he received (December, 1792) his nomination as minister to the United States. He arrived in April, 1793, at Charleston, S. C, where he was cordially welcomed. On May 20 he had a triumphant reception in Philadelphia; the citizens presented him with an address congratulating France upon obtaining the freedom she had helped the United States to secure.
Encouraged by these demonstrations of popular feeling, Genest thought he could easily persuade the American people to embark in the cause of France, notwithstanding the proclamation of neutrality recently issued by President Washington. He openly maintained that the United States were in duty bound to side with France against England, and bitterly denounced the American government for want of sympathy toward the French republic. He even fitted out privateers from Charleston, to cruise against the vessels of nations then at peace with the United States, and to project hostile expeditions against Florida and Louisiana, then colonies of Spain. In consequence of these imprudent measures Washington demanded and obtained his recall. Genest decided not to return to France, settled in the state of New York, was naturalized, and married a daughter of George Clinton.