What were the weaknesses of the Jay Treaty?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Perhaps the most glaring weakness of the Jay Treaty from the perspective of its opponents was its failure to address the issue of impressment of American sailors into the Royal Navy. This had been a major point of contention between the United States and Great Britain, and the fact that it was not resolved by the treaty was one of many sources of outrage in the United States. The treaty also failed to guarantee a settled boundary with British Canada and to negotiate compensation for slaves that fled with the British Army when the Revolutionary War came to an end. Another source of outrage over the treaty was the fact that Jay agreed that Americans should pay debts owed before the Revolution to British merchants. Additionally, the Treaty failed to win any substantial protections for American maritime trade with France. The famous criticisms of the Treaty, though, were mainly partisan in nature. Jeffersonians generally believed that the treaty represented a new and unhealthily friendly relationship with Great Britain. Most historians have agreed with Federalists, who argued at the time that the Treaty was probably the best deal Jay could have received, and that by averting armed conflict with Great Britain, the United States secured its survival during a critical period.

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