"Thomas's Massachusetts Spy" Reprints Jay Treaty, Senate Approved One Month Earlier
Double-sided letterpress broadsheet, Thomas's Massachusetts Spy, Extra, Vol. XXIV, No. 1161, dated Wednesday, July 8, 1795 and issued from Worcester, Massachusetts. Disbound, edges uncut, even toning, isolated scattered foxing and water stains. Each page measures 18.5" x 11".
This special edition of Thomas's Massachusetts Spy reproduced the entirety of the text of the Jay Treaty. Also known as the "Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation between his Britannick Majesty and the United States of America," the Jay Treaty had been signed in November 1794 and approved by a 2/3 majority of the U.S. Senate one month earlier, in June 1795. The treaty was named after its principal American negotiator, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay (1745-1829).
The editor of the Massachusetts Spy wrote: "Treaty with England. As this Treaty is now the subject of general Conversation, the Editor, ever desirous to gratify his readers, hastens to give it to the Publick…".
The Jay Treaty was a self-declared mutually beneficial accord between Britain and the United States that guaranteed at least a decade of future peace, as well as mostly unrestricted commerce and navigation. Many American demands were ably negotiated, both by proxy and in arbitration. While it represented a triumph for Federalists like George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, the Jay Treaty was despised by Democratic-Republicans like Thomas Jefferson. A divergence of opinion about the Jay Treaty polarized early American politics and led to the formation of the First Party System. Jefferson's failure to renew the Jay Treaty in 1805 eventually led to the War of 1812.
"His Britannick Majesty and the United States of America, being desirous by a Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation to terminate their differences in such a manner, as without reference to the merits of their respective complaints and pretensions, may be the best calculated to produce mutual satisfaction and good understanding: And also to regulate the Commerce and Navigation between their respective countries, territories and people, in such a manner as to render the same reciprocally beneficial and satisfactory; they have respectively named their Plenipotentiaries, and given them full powers to treat of, and conclude, the said Treaty, that is to say; His Brittanick Majesty has named for his Plenipotentiary, the Right Honourable William Wyndham Baron Grenville of Wotton, One of His Majesty's Privy Council, and His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; and The President of the said United States, by and with the advice and Consent of the Senate thereof, hath appointed for their Plenipotentiary the Honourable John Jay, Chief Justice of the said United States and Their Envoy Extraordinary to His Majesty, who have agreed on, and concluded the following Articles…"
Treaty terms, outlined in 28 articles, addressed a broad spectrum of economic and geo-political issues. The British agreed to evacuate certain Northwestern Territory forts. The two parties promised to iron out precise limits of the U.S./Canada border, as well as the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. Revolutionary War debts, and renumeration for impressed American seamen and confiscated shipping, were also settled. Commerce and navigation were open and free in general, with a few exceptions.
The Massachusetts Spy, a Boston- and Worcester-based newspaper, was established around 1770 by publisher Isaiah Thomas. During the years immediately preceding the American Revolution, the Spy served as a mouthpiece of Patriot ideology. It issued editorials by leading Patriot thinkers of the day who signed their names with Roman noms de plume. Worcester readers most likely approved the Jay Treaty, as New Englanders tended to be Federalist.
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