I know that in history classes, and the American version of the XYZ Affair, that before the French would even sit down to the table with the Americans in order to discuss, basically, the piracy committed by the French against the Americans, that the French requested money from the Americans.
Now, I know that America still owed the French a great deal of money and materiel from what the French loaned America during the American War of Independence.So, is there any extant evidence that states specifically for what the "bribe" was or why they were requesting a "bribe"?
I was thinking that maybe it wasn't a bribe at all. What I mean is, the US owed French a ton of money, and the French, engaged in a war with Britain, needed that money; furthermore, the French helped out the Americans in their war against the British, so I'm sure there was some animosity that the Americans declared neutrality.
So, why is the money requested by the French considered a "bribe." Why is it not seen as, "If you want us to stop raiding your ships, which we do in order to recoup our losses that you are not paying, then we expect a sum of money up-front to show that you are serious."
Basically, my questions are what are the French's reason for asking for the money, who was to reap the rewards of the money (like aristocratic elites, the federal coffers, the war effort, etc.), who was asking for the "bribe" (like the diplomat who would do the negotiating, or the French government, etc.), and lastly, how did/do (past and present, both at the time of the incident and if I were to be taught about the incident in a French classroom today) the French see the affair? Specifically, do they consider it a "bribe" or simply payments for defaulted loans?