To the Webster-Ashburton Treaty: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1783-1843

To the Webster-Ashburton Treaty: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1783-1843

To the Webster-Ashburton Treaty: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1783-1843

To the Webster-Ashburton Treaty: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1783-1843

Synopsis

The Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, which led to the settlement of the Canadian boundary dispute, was instrumental in maintaining peace between Great Britain and the United States. Jones analyzes the events that aggravated relations to show the affect of America's states' rights policy, and he concludes that the two countries signed the treaty because they considered it the wisest alternative to war, not because of the often-claimed strategic distribution of money.

Originally published in 1977.

Excerpt

The primary purpose of this study is to show how the United States and Great Britain used the tactics of compromise to negotiate the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 and thereby reduce the threat of a third Anglo-American war. The theme of peace has enduring appeal. For almost a century after the Congress of Vienna there was no major war in Europe. An indirect result of this uniquely calm period on the Continent was the development of one of the most unusual and important international relationships ever recorded--that between the United States and Britain. Torn between mutual interests and burning animosities, this shaky Anglo-American understanding almost collapsed by 1842 when the elements working for good relations seemed about to give way again to war. But this time the diplomats would win, taking advantage of the complementary nature of the two nations' relationship, as well as their domestic and foreign troubles, to push them closer together after their last war in 1812-14.

Though the Webster-Ashburton Treaty was instrumental in maintaining peace between the Atlantic nations, there has been no full-scale, scholarly analysis of the settlement, and existing assessments are either incomplete or superficial. No historians have adequately placed the pact within the perspective of nineteenth-century Anglo-American relations, nor have they noted its effects on the international history of North America. Indeed, many have assigned the treaty to the background because of other important events during the 1840s, both domestic and foreign--in the United States, internal politics, Texas, Pacific coastal matters, the Mexican War; in Britain, internal political and economic problems, demands for social reform, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, France, Russia. Many writers seem to have overlooked the consequences of the treaty in their haste to move on to Oregon, Mexico, and the Civil War.

Close examination of the agreement shows that the crucial element lacking in Anglo-American relations after the War of 1812 was mutual . . .

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