Pinckney’s Treaty basically helped the United States expand its territory in the west. For a more detailed understanding, Historyplex gives you the summary and significance of Pinckney’s Treaty.
Did You Know?
Pinckney’s Treaty is regarded as a major achievement of the first US President, George Washington.
After the end of the Great War in 1783, the United States had to assert its position among other superpowers with whom it shared its borders. These were the British, French, and Spanish colonies. The Jay Treaty of 1794 helped the US resolve its disputes with Britain, and reestablished trade between them. However, Spain had rebuffed all offers to reach an agreement with the US, because it controlled the strategically-important southern stretch of the Mississippi river. Moreover, the US couldn’t approach the French, as it had itself violated a previous alliance with them.
The Jay Treaty made Spain fear the growing relationship between USA and Great Britain, especially because it was weakened by its European conflicts. For the safety of its American territory, the Spanish began looking for opportunities to strengthen their relations with USA, and throw Britain off balance. On the other hand, the United States needed to resolve its border disputes with Spain. Both these objectives were fulfilled by Pinckney’s Treaty.
What was Pinckney’s Treaty?
It was an agreement by which Spain agreed to recognize US borders, and allow its citizens to navigate the Spanish-controlled Mississippi river. This treaty was signed by the two countries on October 27, 1795, in San Lorenzo, Madrid, Spain. The United States was represented by its envoy Thomas Pinckney (hence the treaty’s name), while Spain was represented by its Prime Minister Manuel Godoy.
- The United States and Spain decided to establish friendly relations.
- Spain recognized the southern border of the United States as the line passing through the 31st parallel, which separated US territory from Spanish Florida.
- The length of the Mississippi till the 31st parallel was recognized as the western US border between Spanish Louisiana and US territory.
- Spain agreed to allow US citizens to navigate the entire length of the Mississippi river.
- US citizens were allowed to use the Spanish port of New Orleans for duty-free trade, till a period of 3 years (could be renewed).
- Spain agreed to remove all its ports and forts along the Mississippi.
- Both countries agreed not to incite native tribes against each other.
- Both countries decided not to detain or tax ships belonging to either country, and to provide assistance in case of wrecks or piracy.
- The treaty allowed citizens from both countries to approach the courts of law of either one.
♦ Diplomatic Victory
Pinckney’s Treaty was a great diplomatic victory for the fledgling United States. Spain was forced to lay off both of its demands, namely that the United States should form a military alliance with it, and American citizens should pay a tax to use New Orleans as a port. It was forced to accept all the demands of the United States, which became the final terms of the Pinckney’s Treaty. The agreement strengthened the position of the US with respect to other European powers.
♦ Trade Boom
The provision of using New Orleans as a port enabled the rapid growth of US trade. Just a couple of years after the treaty, US trade in the port far exceeded that of the Spaniards. This enabled a large number of American colonists to migrate westwards, even to Spanish territories, where they rebelled against authorities.
♦ Westward Expansion
Prior to this treaty, the Spanish had been arming native tribes to fight US settlers, which had prevented the westward expansion of US territory. But this agreement put an end to this practice. Despite the treaty, US expansionists were determined to gain the sole control of Florida, New Orleans, and the Mississippi river; all controlled by the Spanish. Thanks to the weakened position of the Natives, increased westward migration of American settlers, and a weak Spanish administration, all these goals were fulfilled within just 25 years.
♦ Pinckney’s Popularity
The treaty became widely popular among US citizens, especially those living along the frontiers. Thomas Pinckney, who negotiated the agreement on behalf of the United States, became a household name. The Federalist Party chose him as the running-mate of their Presidential candidate John Adams in the 1796 elections.
However, the position of Vice President went to Thomas Jefferson, while Pinckney was later elected to the US House of Representatives from South Carolina.
Pinckney’s Treaty represents a turning point in US-Spanish relations in the early years of US history, and was one of the main factors that enabled the country to expand westwards.