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US - European Relations in the Late 18th Century and Role Of John Jay Treaty

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In the late 18th century, United States had just solidified their Constitution and established how their system of government would function under President George Washington. One of Washington’s goal, as president, was to make the United States a neutral nation because of how he felt political ties would affect the nation. As political parties began to develop, the nation became conflicted on how they would go about foreign affairs with countries such as Great Britain and France. The United States’ foreign policy with Britain was very negative because of the way Britain treated America. The United States foreign policy with France started off strong but grew tension during the French Revolution.

The American Revolution caused relations between Great Britain and The United States to be strained. Britain failed to recognize America as a nation, and even more so a neutral nation; they also angered America because they attacked American ships during the Napoleonic Wars, wouldn’t remove troops from America, failed to follow agreements of the 1783 Treaty (which was signed by King George III to end the American Revolution), and created the British Rule of 1756 which closed ports during peace and wartime. Collectively, these things caused more tension to rise between the two nations because they made it harder for America to be as neutral of a nation as they wanted to be. John Jay, chief justice of the United States, was sent to Great Britain to create an agreement that would settle these issues; this resulted in the creation of the Jay Treaty which upset many people because all it really did was force British troops to evacuate, allow Americans the choice to consider themselves British citizens, and improve commercial relations (Jay’s Treaty: Treaty Provisions). Though it didn’t fulfill all its purpose, it was successful by postponing war with Britain.

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American relations with the French were good at the beginning of the French Revolution but gradually moved in a negative direction as the French Revolution progressed. In the end of the 18th century, the French began to rebel against their autocratic government with the intent of creating a republican government like the United States. The Americans supported the French with the creation of Democratic-Republican Clubs, their goal being to promote republicanism, diffuse aristocracies, and promote ideals of the American Revolution (Davis). When the people learned more about what was happening during the French Revolution and how it was continuing to grow more and more violent, America began to withdraw their support because they believed that they would become a threat to republicanism and what it stood for. The relationship between the nations was strained even more with the XYZ Affair, in which France tried to force America to pay a bribe and a loan in order to start negotiations and threatened to start a war over it. This led to the (undeclared) Quasi-War, which increased tension for two and a half years until it ended.

America was a new nation at the end of the 18th, century and struggled to be recognized by other nations as a nation. One of America’s goals during this time was to be a completely neutral nation because they weren’t strong enough to have the responsibility of backing up any nations they made alliances with; this idea would come with great disadvantages. America’s foreign policy with Great Britain and France were both negative by the beginning of the 19th century. Great Britain’s attempts to disrupt American trade, relations, and neutrality, pushed America over the edge and forced them to respond with the Jay Treaty which only weakened their relationship. France lost American support during the French Revolution because of the way they portrayed republican ideals, and tension grew between the countries long after that event.

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US – European Relations in the Late 18th Century and Role Of John Jay Treaty. (2023, February 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 30, 2023, from
“US – European Relations in the Late 18th Century and Role Of John Jay Treaty.” Edubirdie, 01 Feb. 2023,
US – European Relations in the Late 18th Century and Role Of John Jay Treaty. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Sept. 2023].
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