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The Convention respecting fisheries, boundary, and the restoration of slaves between the United States of Americamarker and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Irelandmarker, also known as the London Convention, Anglo-American Convention of 1818, Convention of 1818, or simply the Treaty of 1818, was a treaty signed in 1818 between the United Statesmarker and the United Kingdommarker. It resolved standing boundary issues between the two nations, and allowed for joint occupation and settlement of the Oregon Country, known to the British and in Canadian history as the Columbia District of the Hudson's Bay Company, and including the southern portion of its sister fur district New Caledonia.

The treaty marked the last permanent major territorial loss of Continental United States, the northern most tip of the territory of Louisiana above the 49th parallel, known as the Milk River in present day southern Albertamarker. Britain ceded all of Rupert's Land south of the 49th parallel and west to the Rocky Mountains, including the Red River Colony.

Treaty provisions

The treaty name is variously cited asConvention respecting fisheries, boundary, and the restoration of slaves,Convention of Commerce (Fisheries, Boundary and the Restoration of Slaves),and Convention of Commerce between His Majesty and the United States of America.

  • Article I secured fishing rights along Newfoundlandmarker and Labrador for the U.S.
  • Article II set the boundary between British North America and the United States along "a line drawn from the most northwestern point of the Lake of the Woodsmarker, [due south, then] along the 49th parallel of north latitude..." to the "Stony Mountains" (now known as the Rocky Mountains). Britain ceded all of Rupert's Land south of the 49th parallel, including the Red River Colony. This settled a boundary dispute caused by ignorance of actual geography in the boundary agreed to in the 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolutionary War. That earlier treaty had placed the boundary between the United States and British possessions to the north along a line going westward from the Lake of the Woodsmarker to the Mississippi River. The parties failed to realize that the river did not extend that far north, so such a line would never meet the river. The new treaty also created the anomalous Northwest Anglemarker, the small section of the present state of Minnesotamarker that is the only part of the United States outside Alaskamarker north of the 49th parallel.
  • Article III provided for joint control of land in the Oregon Country for ten years. Both could claim land and both were guaranteed free navigation throughout.
  • Article IV confirmed the Anglo-American Convention of 1815, which regulated commerce between the two parties, for an additional ten years.
  • Article V agreed to refer differences over a U.S. claim arising from the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, to "some Friendly Sovereign or State to be named for that purpose". The U.S. claim was for return of, or compensation for, slaves that were in British territory or on British naval vessels when the treaty was signed. The Treaty of Ghent article in question was about handing over property, and the U.S. claimed that these slaves were the property of U.S. citizens.
  • Article VI established that ratification would occur within at most six months of signing the treaty.


History

The treaty was negotiated for the U.S. by Albert Gallatin, ambassador to Francemarker, and Richard Rush, ambassador to the UK; and for the UK by Frederick John Robinson, Treasurer of the Royal Navy and member of the privy council, and Henry Goulburn, an undersecretary of state. The treaty was signed on October 20, 1818. Ratifications were exchanged on January 30, 1819. The Convention of 1818, along with the Rush-Bagot Treaty of 1817, marked the beginning of improved relations between the British Empire and its former colonies, and paved the way for more positive relations between the U.S. and Canadamarker, notwithstanding that repelling U.S. invasion was a defence priority in Canada until the Second World War.

Despite the relatively friendly nature of the agreement, it nevertheless resulted in a fierce struggle for control of the Oregon Country in the following two decades. The British-chartered Hudson's Bay Company, having previously established a trading network centered on Fort Vancouver on the lower Columbia River, with other forts in what is now eastern Washington and Idaho as well as on the Oregon Coast and in Puget Sound, undertook a harsh campaign to restrict encroachment by U.S. fur traders to the area. By the 1830s, with pressure in the U.S. mounting to annex the region outright, the company undertook a deliberate policy to exterminate all fur-bearing animals from the Oregon Country, in order to both maximize its remaining profit and to delay the arrival of U.S. mountain men and settlers. The policy of discouraging settlement was undercut to some degree by the actions of John McLoughlin, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Vancouver, who regularly provided relief and welcome to U.S. immigrants who had arrived at the post over the Oregon Trail.

By the middle 1840s, the tide of U.S. immigration, as well as a U.S. political movement to claim the entire territory, led to a renegotiation of the agreement. The Oregon Treaty in 1846 permanently established the 49th parallel as the boundary between the United States and British North America to the Pacific Oceanmarker.

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