Jay's Treaty: A Stormy Reception

The treaty, which owed much to the influence of Alexander Hamilton, caused a storm of indignation in America. Jay was denounced and burned in effigy, Hamilton was stoned while speaking in its defense, and the treaty was called a complete surrender of American rights. It was submitted to the U.S. Senate, in special session, on June 8, 1795, and on June 24, after stormy debate, it was ratified with a special reservation on the clause relative to trade with the West Indies. It was signed by Washington.

When the treaty was proclaimed as law, after the exchange of ratifications at London in 1796, the U.S. House of Representatives called upon the President for papers relating to the negotiation. In a special message Washington refused to comply with the request of the House. After lengthy debate the House passed a resolution, by three votes, declaring it expedient to pass laws making the treaty effective, and an act was finally passed (Apr. 30, 1796) making appropriations for carrying the treaty into effect.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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