Treaty, officially titled “Treaty of Amity Commerce
and Navigation, between His Britannic Majesty; and The United
States of America,” was negotiated by Supreme Court
Chief Justice John Jay and signed between the United States
and Great Britain on November 19, 1794. Tensions between the
two countries had increased since the end of the Revolutionary
War over British military posts still located in America's
northwestern territory and British interference with American
trade and shipping. Jay was only partially successful in getting
Britain to meet America's demands and opposition to the treaty
in the United States was intense. Although President George
Washington was disappointed with the treaty’s provisions,
he felt it was the best hope to avert war with Great Britain
and submitted it to the Senate for approval. Jay’s Treaty
passed the Senate by a vote of 20 to 10, exactly the two-thirds
required for approval.
Library of Congress Web Site | External
Web Sites | Selected Bibliography
Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation
June 8, 1795, President George Washington submitted
to the Senate all of the documents related to the negotiation
of Jay's Treaty. Additional documents related to U.S.
foreign relations from 1789 to 1828 can be found in
of Congress reports that the Senate
passed Jay's Treaty by a vote of 20 to 10 on June
24, 1795. However, Jay's Treaty required that the House
of Representatives appropriate funds for its implementation.
in the House attempted to block the appropriation
bill, with debate beginning on April 14, 1796. The appropriation
for the treaty was narrowly approved
by a vote of 51 to 48 on April 30, 1796.
in the 4th Congress to locate additional Congressional
debate related to this treaty.
Washington Papers at the Library of Congress
A copy of the resolution announcing the Senate's
approval of Jay's Treaty was sent to President George
Washington on June 24, 1795.
Despite its faults, Washington came to the conclusion
that Jay's Treaty was necessary in order to avoid war
with Great Britain. In a letter to Secretary
of State Edmund Randolph dated July 22, 1795, Washington
wrote, "My opinion respecting the treaty, is the
same now that it was: namely, not favorable to it, but
that it is better to ratify it in the manner the Senate
have advised (and with the reservation already mentioned),
than to suffer matters to remain as they are, unsettled."
Petitions objecting to Jay's treaty were sent to Washington
from a large number of towns, cities, and counties. Washington
responded to most of these protests with the same answer
that he sent to the Boston
Selectmen on July 28, 1795.
Washington's papers to find additional documents related
to Jay's Treaty.
James Madison Papers
James Madison was a leading opponent of the ratification
of Jay's Treaty. This collection contains a draft of a
letter to an unknown correspondent containing a petition
to the General Assembly of Virginia protesting Jay's
Treaty. In addition, it includes Madison's notes
for a speech he gave in 1796 related to the treaty,
as well as his personal copy of Jay's
Madison's papers in order to locate additional information
on this topic.
Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress
Thomas Jefferson was adamantly opposed to Jay's Treaty
and expressed his opposition in a number of letters to
friends and colleagues. Soon after the provisions of the
treaty were made public, Jefferson
wrote to James Monroe on September 6, 1795, that "so
general a burst of dissatisfaction never before appeared
against any transaction. Those who understand the particular
articles of it, condemn these articles. Those who do not
understand them minutely, condemn it generally as wearing
a hostile face to France." A month later Jefferson
agreed with Edward Rutledge "in thinking the
treaty an execrable thing . . . I trust the popular branch
of our legislature will disapprove of it, and thus rid
us of this infamous act, which is really nothing more
than a treaty of alliance between England & the Anglomen
of this country against the legislature & people of
the United States."
After the Senate approved Jay’s Treaty, opponents
in the House of Representatives attempted to block the
appropriation bill needed for implementation of the treaty.
During the debate in the House, Jefferson
wrote another letter to James Monroe, stating that
"the most remarkable political occurrence with us
has been the treaty with England, of which no man in the
U S. has had the effrontery to affirm that it was not
a very bad one except A. H. [note: Alexander Hamilton]
under the signature of Camillus. It's most zealous defenders
only pretended that it was better than war, as if war
was not invited rather than avoided by unfounded demands.
I have never known the public pulse beat so full and in
such universal union on any subject since the declaration
of independence, the House of Representatives of the U.
S. has manifested its disapprobation of the treaty."
Jefferson's papers to locate additional documents
related to Jay's treaty.
& Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations
John Jay, one of the nation's founding fathers, was born
on December 12, 1745, to a prominent and wealthy family
in the Province of New York.
Jay Treaty of 1794 and Associated Documents, Avalon
Project at Yale Law School
Jay's Treaty, Department of State
Papers of John Jay, Columbia University
Over Senate Treaty Approval, United States Senate
Bemis, Samuel F. Jay's Treaty: A Study
in Commerce and Diplomacy. 2nd ed. New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1962. [Catalog
Combs, Jerald A. The Jay Treaty: Political
Battleground of the Founding Fathers. Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1970. [Catalog
Elkins, Stanley, and Eric McKitrick. The
Age of Federalism. New York: Oxford University Press,
Ritcheson, Charles R. Aftermath of
Revolution: British Policy toward the United States, 1783-1795.
Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1969. [Catalog
Stahr, Walter. John Jay: Founding
Father. New York: Hambledon, 2005. [Catalog
Kallen, Stuart A. John Jay.
Edina, Minn.: ABDO Pub., 2001. [Catalog