Treaties with Spain and Britain

Genet, a Frenchman, came to America to ask help against the British. He felt so sure it would be granted that, without waiting for permission from either President or Congress, he began buying vessels and fitting them out to attack the British navy. He had no right to do this, and Washington immediately bade him cease, saying that the United States meant to keep neutral—that is to say, not to side with either country. Genet, however, paid no attention to Washington’s orders, and, as he was not behaving as a minister should, our President forced France to recall him.

At that same time, Great Britain complained louder than ever that her subjects–could not collect the money due to them in America, and began to try to hinder our commerce. To prevent this, Washington sent John Jay to London, to sign a treaty which bears his name. By it the British promised to give up the forts in the Northwest. This treaty was the best which could then be obtained, but it greatly displeased many Americans, who not only blamed Washington and the Senate for agreeing to it (1795), but burned Jay in effigy, to show their anger.

They were better pleased, however, with a treaty made that same year with Spain. It settled the boundaries between Florida and the United States, and gave the Americans permission to sail up and down the Mississippi as much as they liked, without paying –either duty or toll to Spain. This was a great advantage, for the farmers along the Ohio could now float their produce down to New Orleans, where they were sure of a good market.

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