Relations with the USA 1815-1846

What was the relationship between USA and Britain between 1815 and 1846 under the Foreign Secretaries Castlereagh, Canning, Palmerstone and Aberdeen?

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  • Created by: Stitcher
  • Created on: 02-01-12 22:10

USA and Castlereagh

Relations with the USA before 1815 had been frosty due to the War of 1812 between Britian and America, but the Peace of Ghent had been signed in 1814. Castlereagh did not see the point in continuing the bitterness, and wanted to forge a better relationship between Britain and the USA


-He began by agreeing that the 49th parallel should form the border between the USA and Canada

-He managed to compromise and agree with the USA with regards to fishing rights off Newfoundland

-He agreed that British naval forces should be reduced around the Great Lakes area, making this official in the Rush-Bagot Agreement in 1817

-He supported the USA in their decision to hang two British men who tried to help slaves escape from the USA, simply to make the relations between Britain and the USA better


Castlereagh's policy with the USA, especially with regards to the hanging of the two men, made him extremely unpopular with the public. Castlereagh did not wish to please the public but to do what was best for international relations. 

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USA and Canning

After Castlereagh's death, Canning did not try as hard to make the relations between Britain and the USA better.

The Munroe Doctrine of 1823 was issued by President Munroe which made it very clear that if any European power tried to reclaim any of the Latin Americas or intervene in the American continent at all, force would be used to stop them. This clearly shows the bitter relationship between the USA and Europe. Canning didn't like the anti-European side of the doctrine, but he generally agreed with President Munroe.

The Polignac Memorandum signed in 1823 forced France to agree not to interfere in any of the Latin Americas, and led to the diplomatic recognition of Latin American states such as Mexico and Argentina.

Therefore, Canning and the USA had, in a way, worked together to ensure that the Holy Alliance and the other European powers did not get their hands on the Latin Americas. 

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USA and Palmerstone

Palmerstone did nothing to help the relations with the USA

  • Palmerstone was fiercely against the slave trade
  • He was worried that the USA was not abiding by the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade
  • He knew that the only way to enforce it was to stop and search USA ships. 
  • The USA felt that this was out of order and interfering with their rights as an independent country. 
  • This caused bitterness between the the USA and Britain.
  • In Canada there were radical uprisings in 1837. They wanted independence from British rule.
  • Palmerstone knew that these radicals were getting aid from the USA, who supported Canadian independence.
  • Britain supported the Canadian government in stopping the threats, even when a USA ship "The Caroline" was sunk and a US citizen was killed. This was a highly publicised incident.
  • Americans were furious, and the frosty relationship grew
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USA and Aberdeen

Aberdeen wanted to avoid war and tension at all costs

-He resolved border disputes between New Brunswick and Maine with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty 1842

-He approved the annexation of Texas, which Palmerstone was against

-He turned down the prospect of gaining territory in California in the war between USA and Mexico, so that he would not upset the Americans

-In the Oregon boundary dispute, both Britain and the USA wanted to get land on the West of America. The Americans wanted to gain a harbour in that area. The newly elected president Polk (1844) was fiercely anti-British and wanted to gain as much land as possible. This made relations very tense, and Aberdeen skilfully compromised that the border should be at the 49th parallel
-Aberdeen had not fully protected 
Britain's best interests, but he had skilfully kept the peace the the British public favoured his decision.

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