Who is Jay’s Treaty?

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Jay's Treaty

Jay’s Treaty was also known as Treaty of Commerce and Navigation which was established on November 19, 1794. This agreement was made to relieve the conflicts between America and Great Britain that were not resolved since the American independence. This also gave way for America to build a sound economy and assured its commercial prosperity.

Upon the implementation of the treaty, Great Britain agreed to evacuate the Northwest Territory on June 1, 1796 to compensate for America’s grievances and its attacks against American shipping. Also, this action aimed to end discrimination against American commerce and to give the U.S privileges to trade with England and British East Indies.

The treaty was signed by the British foreign minister, Lord Grenville and U.S Chief justice John Jay. Because of the treaty, Mississippi River became open to both countries and prohibited the building or upgrading of armed ships of Britain’s enemies on the ports of U.S.

In February 1796, U.S and Great Britain formalized the treaty. This caused France to interpret it as a violation with their own commercial treaty of 1778 with the U.S due to their conflict with Great Britain. Due to this misunderstanding, France launched maritime attacks on the U.S. and an undeclared naval war in between 1798 to 1800.

Despite of the treaty’s goal to resolve the two countries’ issues, the tensions between U.S and Great Britain was still high after the Revolutionary War due to three main reasons:

a. British exported goods flooded the U.S while the latter’s exports were blocked due to trading restrictions and tariffs.

b. British troops continued to occupy the northern forts that they agreed to vacate.

c. Britain’s impressments of American sailors and seizure of naval and military supplies bound to enemy ports on neutral ships brought the two nations to the brink of war in the late 1700s.

Some of the congressmen argued that Jay’s Treaty weakened American trade rights and it tied U.S. in paying pre-revolutionary debts to English merchants. President George Washington himself was not completely satisfied with the treaty, but he thought that preventing another war with Great Britain was a priority.

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