Jay Treaty

Jay Treaty

Overview
Jay's Treaty, , also known as Jay's Treaty, The British Treaty, and the Treaty of London of 1794, was a treaty between the United States and Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 that is credited with averting war,, resolving issues remaining since the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

,, and facilitated ten years of peaceful trade between the United States and Britain in the midst of the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

, which had begun in 1792.

The terms of Jay's Treaty were designed primarily by the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, strongly supported by the chief negotiator John Jay
John Jay
John Jay was an American politician, statesman, revolutionary, diplomat, a Founding Father of the United States, and the first Chief Justice of the United States ....

; and support from President George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

.
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Jay's Treaty, , also known as Jay's Treaty, The British Treaty, and the Treaty of London of 1794, was a treaty between the United States and Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 that is credited with averting war,, resolving issues remaining since the Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

,, and facilitated ten years of peaceful trade between the United States and Britain in the midst of the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

, which had begun in 1792.

The terms of Jay's Treaty were designed primarily by the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, strongly supported by the chief negotiator John Jay
John Jay
John Jay was an American politician, statesman, revolutionary, diplomat, a Founding Father of the United States, and the first Chief Justice of the United States ....

; and support from President George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

. Jay's Treaty gained the primary American goals, which included the withdrawal of units of the British Army from pre-Revolutionary forts that it had failed to relinquish in the Northwest Territory
Northwest Territory
The Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Northwest Territory, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 13, 1787, until March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio...

 of the United States (the area west of Pennsylvania and north of the Ohio River). (The British had recognized this area as US territory in the Treaty of Paris of 1783.) The parties agree that disputes over wartime debts and the American-Canadian boundary were to be sent to arbitration—one of the first major uses of arbitration in diplomatic history. The Americans were granted limited rights to trade with British possessions in India and colonies in the Caribbean in exchange for some limits on the American export of cotton.

Jay's Treaty was hotly contested by the Jeffersonian
Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian Democracy, so named after its leading advocate Thomas Jefferson, is a term used to describe one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party which Jefferson...

s in each state. They feared that closer economic ties with Britain would strengthen Hamilton's Federalist Party
Federalist Party (United States)
The Federalist Party was the first American political party, from the early 1790s to 1816, the era of the First Party System, with remnants lasting into the 1820s. The Federalists controlled the federal government until 1801...

, promote aristocracy and undercut republicanism
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

. Washington's announced support proved decisive and the treaty was ratified by a 2/3 majority of the Senate in November 1794. It was officially ratified by both countries and proclaimed to be in effect on February 29, 1796. Jay's Treaty became a central issue of contention—leading to the formation of the "First Party System
First Party System
The First Party System is a model of American politics used by political scientists and historians to periodize the political party system existing in the United States between roughly 1792 and 1824. It featured two national parties competing for control of the presidency, Congress, and the states:...

" in the United States, with the Federalists favoring Britain and the Jeffersonian republicans favoring France. The treaty was for ten years' duration. Efforts to agree on a replacement treaty failed (in 1806) when Jefferson rejected the Monroe-Pinkney Treaty
Monroe-Pinkney Treaty
The Monroe–Pinkney Treaty of 1806 was a treaty drawn up by diplomats of the United States and Britain as a renewal of the Jay Treaty of 1795. It was rejected by President Thomas Jefferson and never took effect...

 as tensions escalated toward the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. Formally titled the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, it was signed on November 19, 1794, the Senate advised and consented on June 24, 1795, ratified by the President, and ratifications were exchanged February 29, 1796.

The historian George Herring notes the "remarkable and fortuitous economic and diplomatic gains" produced by the Jay Treaty.

Issues


From the British perspective, its war with France necessitated improving relations with the United States to prevent the U.S. from falling into the French orbit. From the American viewpoint, the most pressing foreign policy issues were normalizing the trade relations with Britain, the United States' leading trading partner, and resolving issues left over from the Treaty of Paris of 1783. As one observer explained, the British government was "well disposed to America… They have made their arrangements upon a plan that comprehends the neutrality of the United States, and are anxious that it should be preserved."

In 1793–94, the British Navy had captured hundreds of neutral American merchant ships, and British officials in Canada were supporting Indian tribes fighting American settlers in the Ohio River Valley, territory which Britain had explicitly ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. Congress voted for a trade embargo against Britain for two months. Hamilton and the Federalists favored Britain over France, and they sought to normalize relations with Britain. Hamilton designed the plan for a treaty and President George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 sent Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Jay
John Jay
John Jay was an American politician, statesman, revolutionary, diplomat, a Founding Father of the United States, and the first Chief Justice of the United States ....

 to London to negotiate a comprehensive treaty.

The American government had a number of outstanding issues:
  • The British were still occupying forts on U.S. territory
    Treaty of Paris (1783)
    The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on the one hand and the United States of America and its allies on the other. The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of...

     in the Great Lakes
    Great Lakes
    The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

     region (the Northwest Territory).
  • The British were continually impressing
    Impressment
    Impressment, colloquially, "the Press", was the act of taking men into a navy by force and without notice. It was used by the Royal Navy, beginning in 1664 and during the 18th and early 19th centuries, in wartime, as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to...

     American sailors into British service
  • American merchants wanted compensation for 250 merchant ships which the British had confiscated from 1793 through 1794.
  • Southerners in the United States wanted monetary compensation for the slaves whom the British Army
    British Army
    The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

     had evacuated with them during the Revolutionary War.
  • Merchants in both America and in the Caribbean wanted the British West Indies
    British West Indies
    The British West Indies was a term used to describe the islands in and around the Caribbean that were part of the British Empire The term was sometimes used to include British Honduras and British Guiana, even though these territories are not geographically part of the Caribbean...

     to be reopened to American trade.
  • The boundary with Canada was vague in many places, and needed to be delineated clearly.
  • The British were believed to be aggravating Native American attacks on settlers in the Northwest.

Treaty terms


Both sides achieved many objectives. The British agreed to vacate the six western forts by June 1796 (which was done), and to compensate American ship owners (the British paid $10,345,200 by 1802). In return, the United States gave most favored nation trading status to Britain, and acquiesced in British anti-French maritime policies. The United States guaranteed the payment of private prewar debts owed by Americans to British merchants that could not be collected in U.S. courts (the U.S. paid £600,000 in 1802).

Two joint boundary commissions were set up to establish the boundary line in the Northeast (it agreed on the Saint Croix River
St. Croix River (Maine-New Brunswick)
The St. Croix River is a river in northeastern North America, in length, that forms part of the Canada – United States border between Maine and New Brunswick . The river rises in the Chiputneticook Lakes and flows south and southeast, between Calais and St. Stephen...

) and in the Northwest (this one never met and the boundary was settled after the War of 1812).

Jay, a strong opponent of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

, dropped the issue of compensation for slaves, which angered Southern slaveholders. Jay was unsuccessful in negotiating an end to the impressment
Impressment
Impressment, colloquially, "the Press", was the act of taking men into a navy by force and without notice. It was used by the Royal Navy, beginning in 1664 and during the 18th and early 19th centuries, in wartime, as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to...

 of American sailors into the Royal Navy, which later became a key issue leading to the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

.

Native American rights


Article III states "It is agreed, that it shall at all times be free to His Majesty's subjects, and to the citizens of the United States, and also to the Indians dwelling on either side of the said boundary line, freely to pass and repass, by land or inland navigation into the respective territories and countries of the two parties on the continent of America, (the country within the limits of the Hudson Bay company only excepted) ... and freely carry on trade and commerce with each other."
Article III of the Jay Treaty declared the right of "Indians" ("Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

") as well as of American citizens and Canadian subjects to trade and travel between the United States and Canada, which was then a territory of Great Britain. Over the years since, the United States has codified this obligation in the provisions of Section 289 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, and as amended in 1965. As a result of the Jay Treaty, "Native Indians born in Canada are therefore entitled to enter the United States for the purpose of employment, study, retirement, investing, and/or immigration". Article III of the Jay Treaty is the cause of most Indian claims.

Approval and dissent


Washington submitted the treaty to the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 for its consent in June 1795; a two-thirds vote was needed. The treaty was unpopular at first, and gave the Jeffersonians a platform to rally new supporters. As the historian Paul Varg explains,
"The Jay Treaty was a reasonable give-and-take compromise of the issues between the two countries. What rendered it so assailable was not the compromise spelled out between the two nations but the fact that it was not a compromise between the two political parties at home. Embodying the views of the Federalists, the treaty repudiated the foreign policy of the opposing party."
The Jeffersonians were opposed to Britain, preferring support for France in the wars raging in Europe, and they argued that the treaty with France from 1778 was still in effect. They considered Britain as the center of aristocracy and the chief threat to the United States' republican values. They denounced Hamilton and Jay (and even Washington) as monarchists who betrayed American values. They organized public protests against Jay and his treaty; one of their rallying cries said: Damn John Jay! Damn everyone that won't damn John Jay! Damn every one that won't put lights in his window and sit up all night damning John Jay!

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 strongly opposed the Treaty as they favored France; foreign policy became a major dispute between the new Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties; it became a core issue of the First Party System
First Party System
The First Party System is a model of American politics used by political scientists and historians to periodize the political party system existing in the United States between roughly 1792 and 1824. It featured two national parties competing for control of the presidency, Congress, and the states:...

. Jefferson and his supporters had a counterproposal to establish "a direct system of commercial hostility with Great Britain," even at the risk of war. The Jeffersonians raised public opinion to fever pitch by accusing the British of promoting Indian atrocities on the frontier. The fierce debates over the Treaty in 1794–95, according to one historian, "transformed the Republican movement into a Republican party." To fight the treaty, the Jeffersonians "established coordination in activity between leaders at the capital, and leaders, actives and popular followings in the states, counties and towns." Jay's failure to obtain compensation for "lost" slaves galvanized the South into opposition.

The Federalists fought back and Congress rejected the Jefferson-Madison counter-proposals. Washington threw his great prestige behind the treaty, and Federalists rallied public opinion more effectively than did their opponents. Hamilton convinced President Washington it was the best treaty that could be expected. Washington, who insisted the U.S. must remain neutral in the European wars, signed it, and his prestige carried the day in Congress. The Federalists made a strong, systematic appeal to public opinion, which rallied their own supporters and shifted the debate. Washington and Hamilton outmaneuvered Madison, who was opposition leader. By then out of the government, Hamilton was the dominant figure who helped secure the treaty's approval by the needed 2/3 vote in the Senate. The Senate passed a resolution in June, advising the president to amend the treaty by suspending the 12th article, which concerned trade between the U.S. and the West Indies. In mid-August, the Senate ratified the treaty 20-10, with the condition that the treaty contain specific language regarding the June 24 resolution. President Washington signed it in late August. The Treaty was proclaimed in effect on February 29, 1796 and in a series of close votes, after another bitter fight the House funded the Treaty in April 1796.

James Madison, then a member of the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, argued that the treaty could not, under Constitutional law, take effect without approval of the House, since it regulated commerce and exercised legislative powers granted to Congress. The debate which followed was an early example of originalism
Originalism
In the context of United States constitutional interpretation, originalism is a principle of interpretation that tries to discover the original meaning or intent of the constitution. It is based on the principle that the judiciary is not supposed to create, amend or repeal laws but only to uphold...

, in which Madison, the "Father of the Constitution," lost. After defeat on the treaty in Congress, the Jeffersonian Republicans lost the 1796 presidential election on the issue.

When Jefferson became president in 1801, he did not repudiate the treaty. He kept the Federalist minister, Rufus King
Rufus King
Rufus King was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress. He also attended the Constitutional Convention and was one of the signers of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

, in London to negotiate a successful resolution to outstanding issues regarding cash payments and boundaries. The amity broke down in 1805, as relations turned increasingly hostile as a prelude to the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

. In 1815, the Treaty of Ghent
Treaty of Ghent
The Treaty of Ghent , signed on 24 December 1814, in Ghent , was the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 superseded the Jay treaty.

Evaluations


The historians Stanley Elkins
Stanley Elkins
Stanley M. Elkins is the Sydenham Clark Parsons Professor Emeritus of history at Smith College.-Slavery:Slavery : A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life , based on Elkin's doctoral dissertation at Columbia University, was theoretically innovative and enormously influential in the...

 and Eric McKitrick
Eric McKitrick
Eric Louis McKitrick was an American historian.-Life:He graduated from Columbia University in 1949, an M.A. in 1951 and a Ph.D. in 1959....

 note that in conventional diplomatic terms, as a "piece of adversary bargaining", Jay "got much the worst of the 'bargain'. Such a view has to a great degree persisted ever since." They conclude that although Jay did not succeed in asserting neutral rights, he did obtain "his other sine qua nons [sic]"; he got none of things that were "desirable, but not indispensable." They add "Jay's record on the 'soft' was open to many objections; on the 'hard' side, it was a substantial success, which included the prevention of war with Great Britain."

The historian Marshall Smelser argues that the treaty effectively postponed war with Britain, or at least postponed it until the United States was strong enough to handle it.

Bradford Perkins
Bradford Perkins (historian)
Bradford Perkins was an American historian who spent the bulk of his career at the University of Michigan. He was the son of the historian Dexter Perkins.-Life:...

 argued in 1955 that the treaty was the first to establish a special relationship
Special relationship
The Special Relationship is a phrase used to describe the exceptionally close political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, military and historical relations between the United Kingdom and the United States, following its use in a 1946 speech by British statesman Winston Churchill...

 between Britain and the United States, with a second installment under Lord Salisbury. In his view, the treaty worked for ten years to secure peace between Britain and America: "The decade may be characterized as the period of "The First Rapprochement." As Perkins concludes,
"For about ten years there was peace on the frontier, joint recognition of the value of commercial intercourse, and even, by comparison with both preceding and succeeding epochs, a muting of strife over ship seizures and impressment. Two controversies with France… pushed the English-speaking powers even more closely together."
Starting at swords' point in 1794, the Jay treaty reversed the tensions, Perkins concludes: "Through a decade of world war and peace, successive governments on both sides of the Atlantic were able to bring about and preserve a cordiality which often approached genuine friendship."

Perkins suggests that (saving perhaps the opening of trade with British India), "Jay did fail to win anything the Americans were not obviously entitled to, liberation of territory recognized as theirs since 1782, and compensation for seizures that even Britain admitted were illegal." He also speculates that a "more astute negotiator than the Chief Justice" would have gotten better terms than he did. He quoted the opinion of the "great historian" Henry Adams that the treaty was a "bad one":


"No one would venture on its merits to defend it now. There has been no time since 1810 when the United States would not prefer war to peace on such terms."


Perkins gave more weight than other historians to valuable concessions regarding trade in India and the concession on the West Indies trade. In addition, Perkins noted that the Royal Navy treated American commerce with "relative leniency" during the wars, and many impressed seamen were returned to America. As Spain assessed the informal British-American alliance, it softened its previous opposition to the United States' use of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and signed Pinckney's Treaty
Pinckney's Treaty
Pinckney's Treaty, also known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo or the Treaty of Madrid, was signed in San Lorenzo de El Escorial on October 27, 1795 and established intentions of friendship between the United States and Spain. It also defined the boundaries of the United States with the Spanish...

, which the Americans wanted. When Jefferson took office, he gained renewal of the commercial articles that had greatly benefited American shipping.

Elkins and McKitrick find this more positive view open to "one big difficulty": it requires that the British negotiated in the same spirit. Unlike Perkins, they find "little indication of this"; preferring to view the British not as future-oriented, but, having had no indication that the United States required attention, wishing to take it off the long list of issues that did.

George Herring's 2008 history of US foreign policy says that in 1794 "the United States and Britain edged toward war" and concludes, "The Jay Treaty brought the United States important concessions and served its interests well." Joseph Ellis finds the terms of the treaty "one-sided in Britain's favor", but asserts a consensus of historians that it was

"a shrewd bargain for the United States. It bet, in effect, on England rather than France as the hegemonic European power of the future, which proved prophetic. It recognized the massive dependence of the American economy on trade with England. In a sense it was a precocious preview of the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 (1823), for it linked American security and economic development to the British fleet, which provided a protective shield of incalculable value throughout the nineteenth century. Mostly, it postponed war with England until America was economically and politically more capable of fighting one."

See also

  • First Party System
    First Party System
    The First Party System is a model of American politics used by political scientists and historians to periodize the political party system existing in the United States between roughly 1792 and 1824. It featured two national parties competing for control of the presidency, Congress, and the states:...

  • List of treaties
  • Timeline of United States diplomatic history
    Timeline of United States diplomatic history
    The diplomatic history of the United States oscillated among three positions: isolation from diplomatic entanglements of other nations ; alliances with European and other military partners; and unilateralism, or operating on its own sovereign policy decisions...


External links