Source: John Jay's Treaty with Great Britain

Lecture Notes:

1 - On the advice of Federalist leaders, who argued that trouble with England must be avoided at all costs. Washington sent John Jay to London to negotiate a settlement or all outstanding grievances. British naval violations of American neutrality, the practice of impressment of American seamen and the continuing British occupation of posts in the Ohio valley were items to which Jay's attention was directed; he was also to seek trading privileges in the British west Indies.

2 - By threatening that the US would enter the war on the side of France, Jay might have been able to exact concessions from the British but Hamilton had deprived him of this bargaining power by privately assuring the British minister in Washington that under no circumstances whatsoever would the US go to war against England.

3 - Jay's treaty was therefore something less than a diplomatic triumph. The British made no concessions on the subjects of neutral rights or impressment, and their trade concessions were limited. They agreed to evacuate the Northwest posts in return for a pledge that the US government would assume the debts owed by American citizens to British subjects If the debtors could not he induced to pay.

4 - News of the terms of the treaty leaked out before Washington could submit it to the Senate and a wave of protest swept the country. Particularly did the southern planters object to having the government take over their obligations to English creditors when the British government refused to consider the Southern claims against England for slaves abducted and for damages wrought by the British armies during the Revolution. From Maine to Georgia, Jay was burned in effigy, and Hamilton was stoned in New York when he endeavored to speak in defense of the treaty. Washington was able to push the treaty through the Senate, but it added nothing to the prestige and strength of the Federalist party.