the quartet orchestrating the second american revolution 1783 1789.pdf

34 no one knew the provisions of the treaty of paris

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34 No one knew the provisions of the Treaty of Paris better than Jay, who therefore acknowledged that the British had a legitimate point, and he ordered Adams, now American minister in London, not to press the issue of British garrisons until he could put the American house in order. In a lengthy report to Congress, Jay argued that all treaties were laws of the land, an early anticipation of what became the Supremacy Clause in the Constitution, meaning that the states were legally obliged to comply with all provisions of the Treaty of Paris. The Virginians would have to pay their back debts, and New Yorkers would have to stop confiscating loyalist estates. 35 A majority of delegates in the Confederation Congress supported Jay’s recommendations, but they were powerless to enforce compliance by the state legislatures. So the British troops remained on American soil, Virginia found ways to avoid paying its British creditors, and New York continued to confiscate loyalist estates. Every Jay initiative based on the assumption that foreign policy would force the confederation to recognize a collective responsibility that cemented the union had become an unmitigated failure. On the contrary, all of Jay’s nationalistic convictions disintegrated once they encountered controversial questions requiring consensus among the states. As Jay succinctly put it to Adams, “I accept that our posterity will read the history of our last four years with much regret.” 36 Jay’s final failure ironically involved the Mississippi, which drew all the dreams of American destiny into its currents. The arrival of a new Spanish ambassador, Don Diego María de Gardoqui, in June 1785 launched a debate over the Mississippi Question, when Gardoqui declared that Spain was closing the southern Mississippi to American traffic. As it soon became clear, there were conflicting dreams about America’s westward destiny that quickly assumed a decidedly sectional shape, not so much east versus west as north versus south. 37 Congress had provided Jay with strict instructions to regard American navigation rights on the Mississippi as nonnegotiable. Jay himself had taken that same position in Paris three years earlier, but the Gardoqui announcement altered the political context. As Jay explained to Congress, the United States was not prepared to go to war with Spain, at least at present: “For, unblessed with an efficient government, destitute of funds, without Public Credit either at home or abroad, war is beyond our reach.” 38 Some kind of negotiated settlement, then, was vastly preferable. And Jay had, in fact, been negotiating privately with Gardoqui for several weeks. (Spanish officials, upon learning of Jay’s well-known affection for his wife, attempted to send Sarah several presents, including a prize horse, but Jay had them returned.) During the negotiations, Jay operated on the assumption that surrendering control of the Mississippi for a limited time would not be a major concession: “As that Navigation is not at present
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  • Fall '16
  • Chemistry, pH, American Revolution, Second Continental Congress, American Revolution, Continental Army

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