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I certainly think that there is some level of validation of the quote in the case of Washington's administration. One need only look at Washington's measured and tempered response during the "Citizen Genet" predicament as evidence. He was quick to argue that it is prudent for America to extract itself from the affairs of Europe, being mindful of how quickly and easy it would be for the young nation to become embroiled in such contexts. He reiterated this through his Farewell Address. I certainly think that his successor wished to follow this same idea, but with the failure of the covert nature of the XYZ affair, it became apparent that while America might seek to stand clear of European affairs, it does involve itself in them on a diplomatic and political level in order to substantiate its own place in the world. I would say that part of the reason why the quote bears some level of truth would be regarding the reality of domestic work that was needed at the time of both administrations, precluding a concerted focus on international affairs.
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