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Insights Into the Jay Treaty of 1794: Summary and Significance

Jay Treaty of 1794: Summary and Significance
The British occupancy loomed over the American soil even after America attained Independence in 1776; moreover, the French were at loggerheads with Britain, and there hung an impending atmosphere of war. Hence, to negotiate historic terms with the British, America signed the Jay Treaty in 1794. This Historyplex post explains the significance and summary of this monumental treaty.
Mary Anthony
Last Updated: Jul 25, 2017
Advocate of Peace
John Jay who played a pivotal role as a political negotiator for the Jay Treaty (the treaty is named in his honor) was also among the chief negotiators for the Treaty of Paris 1783, which declared America's Independence.
American foreign policies with Britain were on a verge of deterioration, and the Revolution in France was heating up the political scenario in the early 1790s. America postulated the need to negotiate both commercial and territorial events with the two European powers. Several resolute issues left enervated at the end of the American Revolution determined that the United States must talk terms with Britain in order to avoid further dispute. The unstable state of the nation's economy and its restricted means of implementing its supremacy by use of military force put the United States in a mortifying situation of not being able to maintain itself in the field of international diplomacy.

With political exasperation, President George Washington dispatched Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay to England to negotiate a peaceful closure on trade and political peace, which led to the Treaty of Jay of 1794. Given below are its salient features:
Historical Background
Treaty of paris
Despite the historic signing of the Treaty of Paris of 1783, both the British and Americans persisted to transgress its guidelines and terms in a host of ways.

Through the provisions of the Treaty of Paris, the western border of the United States had been laid down at the eastern shores of the Mississippi River. Nevertheless, ten years after American independence, British troops were still invading parts of the Ohio Valley. Outstanding liabilities owed to the United States by the British and delineated in the treaty had gone unpaid. American ships were banished from ports under British command, and by 1794, British ships were confiscating American vessels merchandising in the French West Indies on the bases that such trade breached the British Orders in Council that forbade neutral nations from trading with French ports.

British exports oversupplied U.S. markets, while American exports were barred by British trade limitations and tariff duties. The British occupancy of northern forts as well as perennial Native American onslaughts in these areas highly upset the Americans. To make matters worse, Britain started coercing American sailors, and seized naval and military supplies wreaked the two nations to the threshold of war in the later half of 1700s.
Britain was already caught in a war with France and Britain, and under these circumstances, Britain spurned America's view that as a neutral state, it was able to trade freely with all economical parties. Britain confiscated hundreds of American neutral ships, and Sir Guy Carleton, Baron Dorchester, the governor-general of Canada, made a combative speech to western Indians connoting that they would soon be able to reclaim their lands in the Great Lakes region from the United States.

Regrettably, the Navigation Acts that had once nurtured and promoted American cargo ships to British ports now prohibited the new nation to trade freely with British monomania. Moreover, under the Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress had no power of revenue enhancement. With confined means of growing revenue, the U.S. debt grew dramatically. The standing Continental Army was quickly dissolved. By 1785, the ships of the Continental Navy had all been sold or given away, and the naval force of the United States, with the exclusion of a small number of revenue cutters, ceased to subsist.
Opposition of Treaty
The treaty was majorly opposed by Democratic-Republicans, who dreaded that the Federalist Party was trying to achieve its own personal agendas by tighter economic ties with Britain. The Democrats also feared this was a ploy to undercut republicanism by tying United States pursuits to the British monarchy.

The Federalists, on the other hand, favored this treaty as it reinforced economic ties with Britain and accorded on arbitration methods to settle pre-war liabilities and claims of seized American merchant ships.

Leading the opposition from the Republic front were two future presidents: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, both the leaders their patrons neither liked the political or economic scheme of England. Their European favorite was France, despite that country's radical over indulgences. They also feared that the treaty would give too many grants to the British. President George Washington himself was not convinced over the treaty, but in response to the best of public welfare and averting another war with Britain appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay as a peace envoy to England.

Jay himself was anti-French and had shown himself antipathetic to the French Revolution; in lieu of all these situations, he accepted the offer.
Facts and Provisions of the Treaty
Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was a supporter of the treaty and hence, provided John Jay with specific guidelines to outline the treaty. He advocated a strong strategy that would both stabilize relations with Great Britain and vouched increased trade.

John Jay's sole bargaining chip to clinch the deal was that the United States would join the Danish and the Swedish governments in defending their neutral status and defying British seizure of their goods by force of weaponry. But in a turn of events, Alexander Hamilton independently communicated with the British leadership that the United States had no aim of uniting in this neutral armament.

John Jay was favorably welcomed in England in June. The terms of the treaty were officially outlined by the Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and strongly advocated and negotiated by John Jay. Negotiations put forth in front of the monarch empire proved to be an elephant task by a newly developed nation. The British chaffed over the terms, but finally John Jay clinched the deal by forgoing certain unfavorable factors like for e.g. cotton will not be exported from the United States and American economic trade with the British West Indies would be highly restrained. Outlining these key factors amicably, the officially titled 'Treaty of Amity Commerce and Navigation' or 'Treaty of London' or 'Jay's Treaty' was signed by British Foreign Minister Lord Grenville and America's Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay on November 19, 1794 in London.
Provisions of the treaty included (i) the British evacuation of the Northwestern posts by June 1, 1796, granting colonists the choice of becoming American or remaining British citizens, with guaranteed protection. (ii) It denoted peaceful settlement of the northwest and northeast boundaries and the questions of liabilities and recompenses to mixed charges (iii) it provided for unrestricted navigation of the Mississippi and liberal trade between the North American dominions of the two countries (iv) it granted equal exclusive rights to American and British vessels in Great Britain and the East Indies, but also gave access to British vessels to trade through American ports on terms of the 'most-favored nation'.
These articles of the treaty proved economic to the United States, but the British also determined certain articles that once accepted, would annul components of the Treaty of Commerce and Amity with France signed in 1778. Most notable of these components was that the British insisted that supporters of England's enemies must be prohibited to gird themselves or sell their awards in American ports, thus ultimately granting Britain additional rights.

All other prominent grievances like the Canadian-Maine boundary, compensation for pre-revolutionary debts, and British captures of American ships were to be adjudicated by arbitration. Other issues like damages for those Americans whose slaves were eradicated by Britain's voiding armies was not permitted, protection of American sailors against coercing was not ensured, and rules regarding international maritime law were ignored.
The Aftermath
John Jay was welcomed back home with fierce opposition from the public as well as the Republicans; violent protesters thronged the streets hanging and burning stuffed effigies of John Jay. Many of the politicians criticized the President for making the ratification of the bill impossible.

Alexander Hamilton was stoned while addressing in defense of the treaty. On June 8, 1795, President George Washington presented to the Senate, in a special session, all the documents related to the negotiation of Jay's Treaty. After massive oppositions and a lengthy debate, the House passed a resolution by three votes, adjudging it and making the treaty effective.

The Annals of Congress records that the Senate authorized Jay's Treaty by a vote of 20 to 10 on June 24, 1795, and with that, the British surrendered the forts and posts on the Great Lakes. Nevertheless, Jay's Treaty required that the House of Representatives reserve funds for its execution. Opponents in the House sought to block the annexation bill, with the debate commencing on April 14, 1796. The annexation for the treaty was narrowly sanctioned by a vote of 51 to 48 on April 30, 1796.

Despite these drawbacks, President George Washington came to the conclusion that Jay's Treaty was essential in order to avert a war with Great Britain. In a letter to Secretary of State Edmund Randolph, dated July 22, 1795, Washington wrote, "My opinion respecting the treaty, is the same now that it was: namely, not favorable to it, but that it is better to ratify it in the manner the Senate have advised (and with the reservation already mentioned), than to suffer matters to remain as they are, unsettled."
France, which was then at war with England, rendered the treaty as an infringement of its own economic treaty of 1778 with the U.S. This rancor led to French maritime assaults on the U.S. from 1798 to 1800. Even though the treaty averted a war temporarily, it could not prevent a final confrontation of supremacy between England and the U.S. in 1812.