Anglo-American Relations, 1789-1794

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1976

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The thesis is a study of certain internal and external events that affected the development of Anglo-American relations during the period from 1789 to 1794. It examines the international situation b efore and after the adoption of the Constitution in 1789, aspects of British policy toward the United States during this period, the diplomatic mission of Gouverneur Morris, the struggle in Congress over the resolutions introduced by James Madison designed to discriminate against British shipping, and finally, the events leading up to the appointment of John Jay as envoy extraordinary to Great Britain. The narrative and analysis is based on printed secondary and primary sources. The central theme is that the policy advocated by Alexander Hamilton, and supported by most of the Federalists, was on the whole the one best suited to the strengths and weaknesses, internal and external, of the United States during this early stage in its development. Viewed in a contemporary setting, a policy that sought to avoid war and retain commercial intercourse with Great Britain was not only essential to the success of the financial system erected by Hamilton but also necessary to prevent internal disunity and loss of territory as a result of a disastrous war. The Hamiltonian system rested on credit, and that credit was supported by import duties. By far the largest amount of imports came from Great Britain. Internal disunity, exemplified by separatist movements in the west and in Vermont, was an ever present consideration. The United States was not strong militarily. By remaining at peace, America gained time to reduce the national debt, develop internally, and improve the administration of the national government.

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