- Diplomacy in the American Revolutionary War
Diplomacy in the Revolutionary War had an important impact on the Revolution, as the United States evolved an independent foreign policy.
Before the Revolutionary war, extra-colonial relations were handled in London. The colonies had agents in the United Kingdom, and established inter-colonial conferences. The colonies were subject to European peace settlements, settlements with Indian tribes, and inter-colony (between colonies) agreements.
Starting in 1772, several colonies formed Committees of Correspondence. Parliament enacted the Tea Act, in 1773, and after the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Port Act, Massachusetts Government Act, (or Intolerable Acts), in 1774. On November 27, 1775, the Continental Congress established a Committee of Correspondence, which in 1781, became the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Lord North took the uncharacteristic role of conciliator for the drafting of a resolution which was passed on February 20, 1775. It was an attempt to reach a peaceful settlement with the Thirteen Colonies immediately prior to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War; it declared that any colony that contributed to the common defense and provided support for the civil government, and the administration of justice (i.e. against any anti-Crown rebellion) would be relieved of paying taxes or duties except those necessary for the regulation of commerce; it was addressed and sent to the individual colonies, and intentionally ignored the extralegal Continental Congress.
Lord North hoped to divide the colonists amongst themselves, and thus weaken any revolution/independence movements (especially those represented by the Continental Congress).
The resolution proved to be "too little, too late," and the American Revolutionary War began at Lexington, on April 19, 1775. The Continental Congress released a report, (written by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Richard Henry Lee), dated July 31, 1775, rejecting it.
Olive Branch Petition
When the Second Continental Congress convened in May 1775, most delegates followed John Dickinson in his quest to reconcile with George III of Great Britain. However, a smaller group of delegates led by John Adams believed that war was inevitable, but remained quiet. This decision allowed John Dickinson, and his followers to pursue whatever means of reconciliation they wanted: the Olive Branch Petition was approved. It was first drafted by Thomas Jefferson, but John Dickinson found Jefferson’s language too offensive, and he rewrote most of the document, although some of the conclusions remained Jefferson’s. The letter was approved on 5 July, but signed and sent to London, on 8 July 1775.
Letters to the inhabitants of Canada
In 1774, the British Parliament enacted the Quebec Act, along with other legislation that was labeled by American colonists as the Intolerable Acts. This measure guaranteed (among other things) the rights of French Canadians to practice Roman Catholicism.
The Letters to the inhabitants of Canada were three letters written by the First and Second Continental Congresses in 1774, 1775, and 1776 to communicate directly with the population of the Province of Quebec, formerly the French province of Canada, which had no representative system at the time. Their purpose was to draw the large French-speaking population to the American revolutionary cause. This goal ultimately failed, and Quebec, along with the other northern provinces of British America remained in British hands. The only significant assistance that was gained was the recruitment of two regiments totalling not more than 1,000 men.
Envoys to France
Early in 1776, Silas Deane was sent to France, by Congress in a semi-official capacity, to induce the French government to lend its financial aid to the colonies. On arriving in Paris, Deane at once opened negotiations with Vergennes, and Beaumarchais, securing through Roderigue Hortalez and Company, the shipment of much arms and munitions to America. He also enlisted the services of a number of Continental soldiers of fortune, among whom were Lafayette, Baron Johann de Kalb, Thomas Conway, Casimir Pulaski, and Baron von Steuben.
His carelessness in keeping account of his receipts and expenditures, eventually led to his recall on November 21, 1777.
Arthur Lee, was appointed correspondent of Congress in London in 1775. He was dispatched as an envoy to Spain and Prussia to gain their support for the rebel cause. He was appointed co-commissioner to France, along with Deane and Franklin.
In December 1776, Benjamin Franklin was dispatched to France as commissioner for the United States. He lived in a home in the Parisian suburb of Passy, donated by Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, who supported the United States. Franklin remained in France until 1785.
Staten Island Peace Conference
The Staten Island Peace Conference was a brief and unsuccessful meeting designed to bring an end to the American Revolution. The conference took place on September 11, 1776, on Staten Island, New York.
In early September 1776, after the British victory at the Battle of Long Island, Admiral Lord Howe, having been appointed Acting Peace Commissioner by King George III, met with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Edward Rutledge – to hold discussions. Lord Howe initially sought to meet with the men as private citizens (he knew Franklin prior to the war), but he agreed to the Americans' demand that he recognize them as the official representatives of the Congress. The Americans insisted that any negotiations required British recognition of their independence. Lord Howe stated he did not have the authority to meet that demand. The British resumed the campaign at the Landing at Kip's Bay.
Treaty of Fort Pitt
The Treaty of Fort Pitt, also known as the Treaty With the Delawares (Lenape) or the Fourth Treaty of Pittsburgh, was signed on 17 September 1778 and was the first written treaty between the new United States of America and any American Indians—the Lenape in this case. Although many informal treaties were held with Native Americans during the American Revolution years of 1775–1783, this was the only one that resulted in a formal document. It was signed at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania, site of present-day downtown Pittsburgh. It was essentially a formal treaty of alliance. It was largely unsuccessful as the majority of Indian tribes sided with the British.
Treaty of Alliance with France
The Franco-American Alliance (also called the Treaty of Alliance) was a pact between France and the Second Continental Congress, representing the United States government, ratified in May 1778.
Benjamin Franklin, with his charm offensive, was negotiating with comte de Vergennes, for increasing French support, beyond the covert loans and French volunteers. With the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga, the French formalized the alliance against their British enemy; Conrad Alexandre Gérard de Rayneval conducted the negotiations with the American representatives, Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee. Signed on February 6, 1778, it was a defensive alliance where the two parties agreed to aid each other in the event of British attack. Further, neither country would make a separate peace with London, until the independence of the Thirteen Colonies was recognized.
The French strategy was ambitious, and even a large-scale invasion of Britain was contemplated. France believed they could comprehensively defeat the British within two years, reversing the massive losses of the Seven Years War.
In March, 1778, Gérard de Rayneval sailed to America with d'Estaing's fleet; he received his first audience of Congress on August 6, 1778, as the first accredited Minister from France to the United States.
Carlisle Peace Commission
In 1778, after the British defeat at Saratoga (concluded Oct. 17, 1777), and fearful of French recognition of American independence, Prime Minister Lord North had repealed (February 1778) the Tea Act and the Massachusetts Government Act.
A commission was sent to negotiate a settlement with the Americans, organized by William Eden, with George Johnstone, and headed by Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle. However, they left only after news of the Treaty of Alliance (1778) had reached London.
Arriving in Philadelphia, the Commission sent a package of proposals to Congress.. However, the British army left Philadelphia for New York, stiffening the resolve of Congress to insist upon recognition of Independence, which power was not given to the Commission.
On November 27, 1778, they returned to Britain.
Relations with Spain
Spain was not an ally of the United States, (although an informal alliance had existed since at least 1776 between the Americans and Bernardo de Gálvez, Spanish governor of Louisiana, one of the most successful leaders in the entire war). In 1777, a new Prime Minister, José Moñino y Redondo, Count of Floridablanca had come to power, and had a reformist agenda that drew on many of the English liberal traditions. The French relied upon the Bourbon Family Compact, an alliance that had been in place since the Bourbons had become Spain's ruling dynasty in 1713. The Treaty of Aranjuez was signed on 12 April 1779; France agreed to aid in the capture of Gibraltar, Florida, and the island of Minorca. On 21 June 1779, Spain declared war on England.
Spain's economy depended almost entirely on its colonial empire in the Americas, and they were worried about the United States' territorial expansion. With such considerations in mind, Spain persistently rebuffed John Jay's attempts to establish diplomatic relations. They were the last participant of the American Revolutionary War to acknowledge the independence of the United States, on 3 February 1783.
League of Armed Neutrality
The First League of Armed Neutrality was an alliance of minor European naval powers between 1780 and 1783 which was intended to protect neutral shipping against the British Royal Navy's wartime policy of unlimited search of neutral shipping for French contraband.
Empress Catherine II of Russia began the first League with her declaration of Russian armed neutrality on 11 March (28 February, Old Style), 1780, during the War of American Independence. She endorsed the right of neutral countries to trade by sea with nationals of belligerent countries without hindrance, except in weapons and military supplies. Russia would not recognize blockades of whole coasts, but only of individual ports, and only if a belligerent's warship were actually present or nearby. The Russian navy dispatched three squadrons to the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and North Sea to enforce this decree.
Denmark and Sweden, accepting Russia's proposals for an alliance of neutrals, adopted the same policy towards shipping, and the three countries signed the agreement forming the League. They remained otherwise out of the war, but threatened joint retaliation for every ship of theirs searched by a belligerent. When the Treaty of Paris ended the war in 1783, Prussia, the Holy Roman Empire, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Ottoman Empire had all become members.
As the British Navy outnumbered all their fleets combined, the alliance as a military measure was what Catherine later called it, an "armed nullity". Diplomatically, however, it carried greater weight; France and the United States of America were quick to proclaim their adherence to the new principle of free neutral commerce. Britain—which did not—still had no wish to antagonize Russia, and avoided interfering with the allies' shipping. While both sides of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War tacitly understood it as an attempt to keep the Netherlands out of the League, Britain did not officially regard the alliance as hostile.
It was followed in the Napoleonic Wars by the Second League of Armed Neutrality which was massively less successful and ended after the British victory at the Battle of Copenhagen.
- Russia's declaration of Armed Neutrality -- from a Russian naval history
Holland recognizes the United States
In 1776, the United Provinces were the first country to salute the Flag of the United States, leading to growing British suspicions of the Dutch. In 1778 the Dutch refused to be bullied into taking Britain's side in the war against France. The Dutch were major suppliers of the Americans: in 13 months from 1778–1779, for example, 3,182 ships cleared the island of St. Eustatius, in the West Indies. When the British started to search all Dutch shipping for weapons for the rebels, the Republic officially adopted a policy of armed neutrality. Britain declared war in December 1780, before the Dutch could join the League of Armed Neutrality. This resulted in the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, which diverted British resources, but ultimately confirmed the decline of the Dutch Republic.
In 1782 John Adams negotiated loans of $2 million for war supplies, by Dutch bankers. On March 28, 1782, after a petition campaign on behalf of the American cause organised by Adams and the Dutch patriot politician Joan van der Capellen, the United Netherlands recognized American independence, and subsequently signed a treaty of commerce and friendship.
Peace of Paris
The Peace of Paris was the set of treaties which ended the American Revolutionary War. In June 1781, the Congress appointed Peace commissioners to negotiate with the British. On 30 November 1782, preliminary Articles of Peace are signed by Richard Oswald, with representatives of the United States of America.
The path to negotiation
News of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown reached Britain late in November 1781, shortly before Parliament was due to debate the military spending estimates for the following year. The hastily-revised plan was to retain forces in America at their existing level, but to abandon the policy of "offensive" war, in favour of a new approach, of defense against French and Spanish attacks in the Caribbean, and Gilbraltar.
The negotiation process
Therefore, the decision was made to build on the "no offensive war" policy, and begin peace talks with the Americans. First, the stated aim of the 1778 Treaty of Alliance between the United States and France was specifically to maintain the independence of the United States. Second, for well over a year, informal discussions had been held with Henry Laurens, an American envoy captured on his way to Amsterdam and imprisoned in a small two-room suite at the Tower of London. The British negotiator sent to Paris was Richard Oswald, an old slave-trading partner of Henry Laurens, who had been one of his visitors in the Tower of London. His first talks with Franklin led to a proposal that Britain should hand over Canada to the Americans.
British government changes again
On 1 July Lord Rockingham, the figurehead leader of the government, died, so Lord Shelburne was forced to take over, which led to the resignation of Fox, and a massive split in the anti-war Whig party in Parliament. Regardless of this, the remainder of the negotiations would be carried out under Shelburne's devious leadership. For example, he took advantage of the great delay in trans-Atlantic communication to send a letter to George Washington stating that Britain was accepting American independence without preconditions, while not authorising Richard Oswald to make any such promise when he returned to Paris to negotiate with Franklin and his colleagues (John Jay had by this time returned from Spain).
Franklin became ill with gout towards the end of summer, but when John Jay learned in September of the secret French mission to England, by Joseph Matthias Gérard de Rayneval, and the French position on the fisheries, he sent a message to Shelburne himself, explaining in some detail why he should avoid being influenced too much by the French and Spanish. At the same time Richard Oswald was asking if the terms of his commission to negotiate with the Americans could be slightly reworded to acknowledge that the 13 so-called colonies referred to themselves as "United States", and about 24 September, the Americans received word that this had been done.
Britain's Response to the deal
The terms of the peace, particularly the proposed treaty with the United States, caused a political storm in Britain. The concession of the Northwest Territory and the Newfoundland fisheries, and especially the apparent abandonment of Loyalists by an Article which the individual States would inevitably ignore, were condemned in Parliament. The last point was the easiest solved—-British tax revenue saved by not continuing the war would be used to compensate Loyalists. Nevertheless, on 17 February 1783 and again on 21 February, motions against the treaty were successful in Parliament, so on 24 February Lord Shelburne resigned, and for five weeks the British government was without a leader. Finally, a solution similar to the previous year's choice of Lord Rockingham was found. The government was to be led, nominally, by the Duke of Portland, while the two Secretaries of State were to be Charles Fox and, remarkably, Lord North. Richard Oswald was replaced by a new negotiator, David Hartley, but the Americans refused to allow any modifications to the treaty— partly because they would have to be approved by Congress, which with two Atlantic crossings, would take several months. Therefore, on 3 September 1783, at Hartley's hotel in Paris, the treaty as agreed to, by Richard Oswald the previous November, was formally signed, and at Versailles, the separate treaties with France and Spain were also formalised.
Treaty of Paris
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ratified by the Congress of the Confederation on January 14, 1784 and by the King of Great Britain on April 9, 1784 (the ratification documents were exchanged in Paris on May 12, 1784), formally ended the American Revolutionary War between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United States of America, which had rebelled against British rule starting in 1775. The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of these see Peace of Paris (1783).
The treaty document was signed at the Hôtel de York – which is now 56 Rue Jacob – by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay (representing the United States) and David Hartley (a member of British Parliament representing the British Monarch, King George III). Hartley was lodging at the hotel, which was therefore chosen in preference to the nearby British Embassy – 44 Rue Jacob – as "neutral" ground for the signing.
On September 3, Britain also signed separate agreements with France and Spain, and (provisionally) with the Netherlands. In the treaty with Spain, the colonies of East and West Florida were ceded to Spain (without any clearly defined northern boundary, resulting in disputed territory resolved with the Treaty of Madrid), as was the island of Minorca, while the Bahama Islands, Grenada and Montserrat, captured by the French and Spanish, were returned to Britain. The treaty with France was mostly about exchanges of captured territory (France's only net gains were the island of Tobago, and Senegal in Africa), but also reinforced earlier treaties, guaranteeing fishing rights off Newfoundland. Dutch possessions in the East Indies, captured in 1781, were returned by Britain to the Netherlands in exchange for trading privileges in the Dutch East Indies.
The American Congress of the Confederation ratified the treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784, and copies were sent back to Europe for ratification by the other parties involved, the first reaching France in March. British ratification occurred on April 9, 1784, and the ratified versions were exchanged in Paris on May 12, 1784. It was not for some time, though, that the Americans in the countryside received the news due to the lack of communication.
Based on preliminary articles made 30 November 1782, and approved by the Congress of the Confederation on 15 April 1783, this treaty was signed on 3 September 1783, and ratified by Congress on 14 January 1784, formally ending the American Revolutionary War between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the thirteen former colonies which on 4 July 1776 had formed the United States of America.
Full texts (French and English)
- Jenkinson, Charles A Collection of All the Treaties of Peace, Alliance, and Commerce Between Great Britain and Other Powers vol. 3, pages 334 onward. London, Debrett (1785), via Google Books— accessed 2008-01-03
Privileges which the Americans had received from Britain automatically when they had colonial status were withdrawn, (including protection from pirates in the Mediterranean Sea that led to the Barbary Wars). Individual States ignored Federal recommendations, under Article 5, to restore confiscated Loyalist property, and also evaded Article 6 (e.g. by confiscating Loyalist property for "unpaid debts"). Some, notably Virginia, also defied Article 4, and maintained laws against payment of debts to British creditors. Individual British soldiers ignored the provision of Article 7, about removal of slaves. The real geography of North America turned out not to match the details, given in the Canadian boundary descriptions. The Treaty specified a southern boundary for the United States, but the separate Anglo-Spanish agreement did not specify a northern boundary for Florida, and the Spanish government assumed that the boundary was the same as in the 1763 agreement, by which they had first given their territory in Florida to Britain. While that dispute continued, Spain used its new control of Florida to block American access to the Mississippi, in defiance of Article 8. In the Great Lakes area, the British adopted a very generous interpretation of the stipulation that they should relinquish control "with all convenient speed", because they needed time to negotiate with the Native Americans, who had kept the area out of United States control, but had been completely ignored in the Treaty. Even after that was accomplished, Britain retained control as a bargaining counter in hopes of obtaining some recompense for the confiscated Loyalist property. This matter was finally settled by the Jay Treaty in 1794, and America's ability to bargain on all these points was greatly strengthened by the creation of the new constitution in 1787, and victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
In 1784, the British allowed trade with America but forbid some American food exports to the West Indies, while British exports to America reached £3.7 million, and imports only £750,000. This imbalance caused a shortage of gold in the U.S. In 1784, New York-based merchants opened the China trade, followed by Salem, Boston, Philadelphia. In 1785, John Adams was appointed first minister to the Court of Saint James (Great Britain), and Jefferson replaced Franklin as minister to France. In 1789, the Jay-Gardoqui Treaty with Spain, gave Spain exclusive right to navigate Mississippi River for 30 years, but was not ratified because of western opposition. Between 1793-1815, the worldwide war erupted between Great Britain, and France (and their allies). On the April 25th 1793, Washington issued a proclamation, announcing the neutrality of the United States between the belligerent nations of Europe. America remained neutral until 1812, did business with both sides, and was harassed by both sides. George Washington appointed John Quincy Adams minister to the Netherlands (at the age of 26) in 1794, and to Portugal in 1796. In 1795, Jay Treaty with Britain averted war, and opened 10 years of peaceful trade with Britain, but failed to settle neutrality issues. British eventually evacuated the western forts, with boundary lines and debts (in both directions), settled by arbitration. The treaty was barely approved by the Senate (1795) after revision, and was intensely opposed. It became a major issue in formation of First Party System. In 1796, Treaty of Madrid established boundaries with the Spanish colonies of Florida and Louisiana, and guaranteed navigation rights on the Mississippi River. In 1797, the Treaty of Tripoli, a peace treaty with Barbary state of Tripoli, was signed into law by President John Adams on June 10. America said government was non-religious in origin and practice, but the treaty was violated in 1801 by the Basha of Tripoli, which led to the Tripolitanian War. In 1797, the XYZ Affair erupted, with the humiliation by French diplomats, and the threat of war with France. In 1798-1800, the Quasi-War, an undeclared naval war with Revolutionary France festered. John Adams in 1797, appointed his son, John Quincy Adams as Minister to Prussia. There Adams signed the renewal of the very liberal Prussian-American Treaty of Amity and Commerce after negotiations with Prussian Foreign Minister Count Karl-Wilhelm Finck von Finckenstein.
- ^ http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/2002_summer_fall/foreign_policy.htm
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- ^ WILLIAM H. SEWARD (1853). Life and public services of John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States. DERBY, ORTON & MULLIGAN. p. 72. http://www.archive.org/stream/lifepublicservice00sewa/lifepublicservice00sewa_djvu.txt.
- Foster, John W. (1901). A Century of American Diplomacy. WikiSource. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/A_Century_of_American_Diplomacy.
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- Hoffman, Ronald; Peter J. Albert editor (1981). Diplomacy and Revolution: The Franco-American Alliance of 1778. University of Virginia Press. p. 212. ISBN 0813908647.
- Hoffman, Ronald; Peter J. Albert editor (1986). Peace and the Peacemakers: The Treaty of 1783. University of Virginia Press. p. 286. ISBN 0813910714.
- Dull, Jonathan R. (1987). A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution. Yale University Press. p. 236. ISBN 0300038860. http://books.google.com/?id=W86WS9Z0ycYC&pg=PA58&lpg=PA58&dq=Joseph+Matthias+G%C3%A9rard+de+Rayneval.
- Stockley, Andrew (2001). Britain and France at the Birth of America: The European Powers and the Peace Negotiations of 1782–1783. University of Exeter Press. pp. 272. http://www.historycooperative.org/cgi-bin/justtop.cgi?act=justtop&url=http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/wm/60.1/br_11.html.
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- Matthew Q. Dawson (2000). Partisanship and the birth of America's second party, 1796-1800. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313310461. http://books.google.com/?id=kniI6MQ1gkIC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=revolutionary+war+diplomacy.
- Tadashi Aruga (1985). "Revolutionary Diplomacy". Japanese Journal of American Studies. http://wwwsoc.nii.ac.jp/jaas/periodicals/JJAS/PDF/1985/No.02-059.pdf.
- Kenneth D. Hartsoe. "Commerce and Diplomacy The First Year of American Foreign Policy 1775-1776". http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/2002_summer_fall/foreign_policy.htm.
- "TWELFTH ANNUAL DIPLOMATIC AWARDS CEREMONY". Douglas Dillon Award for Distinguished Writing on American Diplomacy. the American Academy of Diplomacy. November 28, 2001. http://www.academyofdiplomacy.org/awards/book-2001.html.
- Samuel Flagg Bemis (2008). The Diplomacy of the American Revolution. READ BOOKS. ISBN 9781443721936. http://books.google.com/?id=YkaEj7OGCcMC&pg=PA82.
- Text of the Treaty of Paris (without Delaware)
- Treaty of Paris, 1783 U.S. Department of State summary
- Treaty of Paris, 1783; International Treaties and Related Records, 1778-1974; General Records of the United States Government, Record Group 11; National Archives. (with Delaware)
- A Select Bibliography of Diplomacy in the War of American Independence compiled by the United States Army Center of Military History
- "War and Diplomacy: Anglo-French Competition in Newfoundland to 1815", A Reader's Guide to the History of Newfoundland and Labrador to 1869, Olaf U. Janzen, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College
Territorial expansion of the United StatesConcept: Manifest Destiny
Thirteen Colonies (1776) · Treaty of Paris (1783) · Louisiana Purchase (1803) · Red River Cession (1818) · Adams–Onís Treaty (1819) · Texas Annexation (1845) · Oregon Treaty (1846) · Mexican Cession (1848) · Gadsden Purchase (1853) · Guano Islands Act (1856) · Alaska Purchase (1867) · Annexation of Hawaii (1898) · Treaty of Paris (1898) · Treaty of the Danish West Indies (1917)
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