What caused Jay's Treaty?

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mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

There were several factors that led to Jay’s Treaty with Great Britain. As a new country, the other powerful countries, mainly Spain, Great Britain, and France, were trying to push us around and to test us to see how we would respond to their actions. The British were seizing our ships, impressing our sailors, and wouldn’t leave the Ohio Valley. We had a right as a neutral nation to trade with countries at war. When British tried to stop us from trading with France and when they began to force our sailors into their navy, some Americans wanted to go to war. President Washington knew we weren’t ready or prepared to fight a war. He preferred diplomacy to resolve these issues with Great Britain.

As a result, we negotiated Jay’s Treaty with the British. This treaty allowed us to do some trading with the West Indies. The British also agreed to leave the Ohio Valley. Committees would be created to discuss how to handle the illegal capturing our ships. Committees also would discuss how Britain would pay for damages they caused to the ships they seized. We also received equal treatment when trading with Great Britain.

Many Americans weren’t happy that the issue of impressment wasn’t resolved with this treaty. However, Washington believed we got a good deal in this treaty, and it prevented us from possibly fighting a war we weren’t prepared to fight.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Jay’s Treaty, signed with Great Britain in 1795, was brought about by American weakness, leftover issues from the Revolutionary War, and by the conflict between France and Britain.

After the French Revolution, France and Britain went to war.  America got caught up in this war, with the British and French navies alike seizing American ships attempting to trade with the other side.  Jay’s Treaty was an attempt to get Britain to stop seizing American ships.  It was also an attempt to settle outstanding issues such as the stationing of British troops in forts on American soil.  The relative weakness of the US forced Jay to agree to a treaty that gave Britain more than the US got.

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