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The ‘Jay Treaty’ : The Jay Treaty can be seen as the start of the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and America.
The ‘Jay Treaty’

In 1794, America had to choose between France, a new republic like herself, or Britain, whose oppressive rule she had just thrown off. America’s choice was surprising - but wise, as events quickly showed.

IN 1783, the American Revolutionary War came to an end with the Treaty of Paris. Six years later, the French people overthrew their own King, and many in America, especially the Jeffersonians, saw the new republican France as a more natural ally than Britain.

But America’s first Chief Justice, John Jay, refused to court war with Britain either to please the French, or (as the Jeffersonians demanded) to squeeze compensation out of London for plantation owners whose ‘property’ had escaped in the Revolutionary War.

‘Jay’s Treaty’, signed in London in 1794 with George Washington’s support, secured eighteen precious years of peace.

In that time, Britain busied herself abolishing slavery, and growing her trade with India. But Paris had already descended into her bloody ‘Terror’, and ten years later Napoleon Bonaparte, wearing an Emperor’s crown, had reintroduced slavery in French colonies, and plunged all Europe into war.

George Washington’s support was not just decisive. It was prophetic.

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Picture: © JayHeritageCenter, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 4.0. View original
The John Jay estate in Rye, New York, where Jay was brought up. One of the ‘Founding Fathers’ and a signatory of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, he became the second Governor of New York and America’s first Chief Justice, and was a leading abolitionist.

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