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Foreign Policy during George Washington's Presidency

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Lorenzo Penna

on 20 February 2014

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Transcript of Foreign Policy during George Washington's Presidency

Pictured here is a copy of the first page of Jay's Treaty. Signed into law on June 14, 1795, the treaty outlined limitations of the British. The United States wanted the British to remove their forts from the Northwest territory, return American vessels, improve commercial relations, and accept the American definition of neutrality. The British rejected the position on neutral rights and would not give compensation for American vessels until all pre Revolutionary debts were paid off.
American Foreign Policy
Great Britain
The United States remained neutral carriers with Great Britain and France during the French Revolution.
In June 1793, the London government blockaded French ports to neutral shipping.
The British navy began capturing American vessels and impressing sailors.
In Jay's Treaty, the main objectives were for the removal of British forts in the North West territory, compensation for seized ships, improved commercial relations, and acceptance of the American definition of neutral rights.
The British compromised by allowing some American vessels to continue trade with the British West Indies and by leaving frontier posts.
However, they rejected the rights of neutrality and refused to provide compensation for seized ships until pre-Revolutionary war debts were paid off.
Jay's Treaty was signed into law on June 14, 1795 and kept peace between the two countries.

In the midst of conflict between Great Britain and France, the United States was forced to create a foreign policy that would best protect the sovereignty and neutral rights of the nation. Since the United States decided that it would remain neutral in the affairs of great European powers, Great Britain & France took to seizing American vessels that carried goods for the opposing side and impressing American sailors into their navies. These actions greatly angered the American people, and Washington's Administration aimed to resolve such issues through compromise.
Trends within the Time Period
#1 Goal: Remain neutral!!
continue policy of neutrality
remain neutral carriers in trade
*Best way for America to avoid war overseas was to remain neutral.

#2: Set up trade agreements; promote free trade w/ Britain, France, & Spain
means of paying back debt from American Revolution
paying off debt = more likely to be seen as a legitimate country
The US, most of the time, promoted compromise instead of conflict.
conflict = war
compromise = gains in legitimacy
US Policy
The central theme in U.S foreign policy during Washington's Presidency was neutrality.
President Washington wanted the young republic to remain neutral in the affairs of great European powers.
On April 22, 1793, President Washington issued the Proclamation of Neutrality, which served as the basis for foreign policies with other nations.
It was created as a formal declaration of the United States' neutral stance, in hopes that other nations would respect the U.S's neutral rights.
Although the United States welcomed open trade and access to the seas, its foreign policy stipulated that feuding nations not interfere with the shipping of neutral carriers.
In hopes of legitimizing the young republic in the eyes of European powers, the federal government assumed all state debts acquired during the American Revolution and paid those debts by implementing necessary institutions such as the Bank of the United States.

The American Revolution inspired the French Revolution and it also caused division amongst political parties because of their stances on its effectiveness:
Democratic Republicans→
it spread the idea of democracy; favored the spread of republicanism
too gory, did not want to be associated to the violence; condemned French political excess and expansions
The Proclamation of Neutrality:
declared the commercial neutrality of the United States with France amidst its conflict with Britain. This greatly angered the French.
General Description of the Time Period (1789-1796)
To the left is a portrait of President George Washington done by Gilbert Stuart in 1796, the last year of Washington's second and final term as president. The painting, which is titled the Lansdowne portrait, was a gift to the Marquis of Lansdowne, an English supporter of American independence, from Senator and Mrs. William Bingham of Pennsylvania. In the portrait, Washington is depicted standing with an arm stretching outward in a manner that seems welcoming or open, a gesture that historians believe symbolizes that he is a strong leader who envisions bright prospects for his nation .
Spain closed the Mississippi River to American commerce and persuaded local Indian tribes to harass US settlers
US merchants used the Mississippi to export goods with few transportation fees compared to the expensive fees across land
Spain negotiates Pinckney's Treaty
Jay's Treaty made Spain think that the US and Britain made an alliance to remove them of their possessions in North America
opened Mississippi River to American commerce
deposit of goods in New Orleans without duties
promised to stay out of Indian Affairs
established southern US boundary aligned with Spanish Florida up until the Mississippi
The US mostly kept the approach of compromise to prove their legitimacy to foreign countries.
Treaties & compromises kept them out of war
Jay's Treaty, Pinckney's Treaty, Treaty of Ghent
Policy of Neutrality
avoided foreign entanglements
calmed international tensions (to an extent)
remained neutral carriers in trade
passed acts w/ Britain & France that influenced acceptance of neutral rights
Macon's Bill & Non-Intercourse Act
both unsuccessful acts
Conflict was not effective for the US
overall weak country
lacked leadership in military
Army & navy extremely small and weak compared to Britain & France
Treaty of Ghent (from War of 1812) only stopped fighting between US and England
didn't discuss rendered territory or impressments; just stopped the fighting
Pinckney's Treaty, as seen above, was negotiated and signed by Thomas Pinckney on October 27, 1795 in San Lorenzo El Real, Spain. This treaty was also called the Treaty of San Lorenzo because of the location of where it was signed. It outlined the boundaries between the lands of the US and the lands of Spain. It also granted US commerce access to the Mississippi River as well as a duty-free deposit of goods in New Orleans. This treaty eased the fears of Spain that the US allied with Britain in Jay's Treaty in order to take Spain out of North America. Pinckney returned to America as a hero of the Federalist Party, and the Senate passed the treaty into effect without a single vote of opposition the following March.
The Proclamation of Neutrality (1793), as shown above, was published in the Columbian Centinel on May 4, 1793 after it was issued by President Washington on April 22, 1793. The Proclamation was a formal declaration of the United States' neutrality in foreign affairs and established the terms of said neutrality by stipulating that feuding nations could not interfere with the shipping of neutral carriers. In addition, it promised legal proceedings against anyone who provided assistance to any country at war. At the time the proclamation was issued , France and Great Britain were at war with each other.
Depicted here is the execution of King Louis XVI by guillotine. It was engraved on a copperplate by a German named Georg Heinrich Sieveking in 1793. Political parties in America separated even further after the execution of Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Aside from the Reign of Terror, Jeffersonian Republicans felt that the French were effective in spreading the view of democracy. Federalists felt that Americas would take influence and possibly rebel violently against their own government as well.
"Execution of Louis XVI" copperpplate engraving by Georg Heinrich Sieveking, 1793
British Caricature of a press gang, 1780

Depicted in this British caricature drawn in 1780 is a traditional British press gang, impressing American sailors into the British navy. Britain, as well as France, did not accept American rights of neutrality and the rights of neutral carriers. Since both of these great European powers were in war with each other, both countries attempted to forbid neutral commerce with the European continent. They seized any ship that they suspected to be working with the enemy, forcing its sailors to serve in their navies. The US attempted many times to compromise these issues with Britain in treaties such as Jay's Treaty; however, Britain never compromised to accept rights of neutrality.
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