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Jay's Treaty

Jay's Treaty, named after US Supreme Court chief justice John Jay, was a treaty signed on November 19, 1794 that attempted to clear up some of the lingering problems of American separation from Great Britain.

After being reelected to his second term as president, George Washington decided to concentrate on foreign policy issues. The most pressing issues were with the British, and to deal with them Washington sent the Supreme Court Chief Justice to London to talk with the British leadership. The Americans had a number of issues they wanted dealt with:

  • Britain was still occupying a number of forts in the western United States.
  • American merchants wanted compensation for goods and ships confiscated during the the War of Independence.
  • Southerners wanted compensation for the slaves the British had taken from them during the revolution.
  • Merchants also wanted the British West Indies[?] reopened to American trade.

Jay's negotiations with the British were not particularly successful. The British agreed to vacate the western forts, and to compensate American ship owners. In compensation, the British got most-favoured-nation trading status from the Americans. The British refused to give any more compensation, however, unless the United States provided compensation for the vast amounts of United Empire Loyalist[?] property seized after the revolution. The British also refused to allow trade between the US and the Caribbean.

The American people were very displeased with this settlement, and there were many protests against Jay and his treaty. Alexander Hamilton, however, convinced Washington it was the best treaty that could be expected, and Washington agreed to sign it. This action caused Thomas Jefferson to start forming an active and open opposition group to Hamilton and his associates. They began to call themselves Republicans, but this group would later morph in the Democratic Party.



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