Changing of the Guard Takes Time

Between 1783 and 1795, when the Jay Treaty was signed and ratified by Congress, the U.S. was often at loggerheads with Great Britain who was routinely violating the Treaty of Paris. The Jay Treaty brought some breathing space so the Founding Fathers could figure out how to make the newly ratified Constitution work.

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Privateering During the War of 1812

Madison signed the law on August 4th, 1812, allowing consortiums to be issued letters of marque which would enable the ships they owned to seize British ships and sell the vessel and the cargo. When Congress issued a letter of marque, it did not require any sort of reporting of what they captured or sank or if the consortium’s ship was captured by the British.

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Demilitarizing the U.S./Canadian Border

In 1817, Canada was not an independent country so any decisions about the colony’s borders had to be made in England. In a series of letters exchanged by the U.S. Secretary of State Richard Rush and the British Ambassador to the U.S., Sir Charles Bagot, in April 1817, the two men worked out an agreement that was submitted to both country’s legislatures.

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Who Won the War of 1812?

In both the British Parliament and the Foreign Office, many influential MPs and diplomats were still smarting from the loss of the Thirteen Colonies in 1783. They viewed the United States as a rebellious child that had run amok and needed to be taught a lesson. Eventually, English politicians thought the U.S. would come to its senses and rejoin the Empire. As a result, the British Parliament passed laws knowing they would anger U.S. citizens. Yet, despite the animosity caused by the British Parliament’s high-handed actions, the United Kingdom remained the U.S.’s largest trading partner.

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There Were Egos Involved

Lord North refused to accept that the British position in North America was untenable and that the war was unwinnable. They still thought they could defeat a determined, if under-equipped, under-armed, underfunded but well-led and highly motivated army that now had French support.

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Yorktown’s Significance Beyond the Battle

The size of Cornwallis’s surrender puts it high on an unpleasant list in British Army history. The real significance is that his (and the British Army’s defeat) set in motion a series of events that ultimately led, two years later, to the Thirteen Colonies being granted their independence.

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Hunters of the Corps of Discovery

When the Spanish learned of the Lewis and Clark’s expedition, they sent Pedro Vidal and 51 – a mix of soldiers, local settlers, and Pueblo Indians – to arrest the members of the Corps of Discovery. Spain’s rationale was that the Americans were trespassing Spanish Territory.

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Jefferson’s Piracy Problem

From a foreign policy perspective, Jefferson’s choices vis a vis the Barbary Pirates were limited. He couldn’t approach England or France or their allies for help because they were at each other’s throats. Luckily, he still had the navy created under the Adams administration which was sent to the Mediterranean.

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