Jay’s Treaty

Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America, by their President, Ratified June 24, 1795.

Although the Treaty of Paris (1783) ended the American War for Independence, the years following saw relations between America and England deteriorate precipitously.
The American statesman John Jay, pressed into service as special envoy, went to England to negotiate disagreements between the two governments. On November 19, 1794 Jay’s Treaty was signed, averting the threat of war.England refused to evacuate the frontier forts in the Northwest Territory; in addition, she seized American ships, forcing American sailors to serve in England’s war against France. The United States, for her part, passed navigation laws that were potentially damaging to Great Britain. It was apparent that a commercial war between the two countries would undermine the health of the American economy.

The Treaty eliminated British control of western posts within two years, established America’s claim for damages from British ship seizures, and provided America a limited right to trade in the West Indies.

Although Jay’s Treaty provoked a storm of controversy (Jay was burned in effigy by mobs of outraged Americans), President Washington pressed for ratification. The treaty passed the Senate in June, 1795.

Among John Jay’s many accomplishments — president of Congress in 1778, minister to Spain, one of three Americans who negotiated the Paris Peace Treaty, an author of The Federalist and the first chief justice of the Supreme Court — none was more important than his negotiation of of the Treaty with Great Britain in 1794.

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