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British-American relations during the 1840?s had a couple of disputes that could have cause war with Britain. The main things the British and Americans disagreed over in the 18 40?s were borders and ownership of territory. Because of the Manifest Destiny mentality of the Americans they thought that all territory to the west belonged to or would belong to the US. The main territory in dispute was the Oregon territory, which could have went a lot worse and could have started a war with Britain. The Caroline affair also could have led to war because the US could have taken it as an invasion onto US soil from Canada, which was British controlled. The Creole case also caused tension. Even though these tension causing events were occurring Britain and America were progressing towards more defined borders. An improvement in relations was also shown in the repeal of the Navigation acts.

The July 1845 edition of New York?s Democratic Review contained an editorial by John L. Sullivan. Written specifically to support the U.S. annexation of Texas, O?Sullivan?s article introduced a phrase that was excitedly adopted by supporters of Western expansion as the Manifest Destiny.

?It is our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions.? Said O?Sullivan.

As the nation approached the middle of the nineteenth century, enthusiasm for territorial expansion ran high. Supporters of the Manifest Destiny argued that more Western land was needed to provide space for the new Americans created by a high birth rate and increased immigration. They pointed out that land governed by Mexico and Britain was sparsely populated and mostly unproductive. The supporters argued that the land should be given to American settlers who can put it to better use.

The Democrats were the most vocal supporters of the Western expansion. In the presidential election of 1836, Democratic candidate James K. Polk defeated his Whig rival, Henry Clay. Polk would serve only one term, but his four years in office did much to put the philosophy of Manifest Destiny into action.

( Ramini p?.)

In 1818, Britain and the US had agreed to a joint occupation of Oregon. This arrangement had worked well while most of the areas white inhabitants were fur traders operating along the coast. But in the 1840?s hundreds of Americans settlers began moving into the region along the famous Oregon Trail. Now many Americans called for their governments to claim all of Oregon for the US, not just up to the 49th parallel, but up to latitude 54?40?.

In 1844, supporters of the ?reoccupation of Oregon held a convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. One of the conventioneers, William Allen, coined the phrase ? Fifty four or fight,? to sum up the conventions belief that the US should back up its claim to Oregon, with force if necessary; a move that might mean another war between America and Britain.

In 1846, the US government bowed to public pressure and took action on the ? Oregon Question.? Congress authorized President Polk to inform the British that the ?joint occupation? of the region was at and end. The fact that this action might cause war with Britain meant little to those who wanted Oregon for the US.

But Oregon?s value to the British had fallen when fur trade ceased to be profitable. The British were therefore willing to compromise. But many people in the US continued to cry ? Fifty four or fight? despite the fact that only a few Americans had settled that far north. President Polk favored British proposal to divide the territory at the 49th parallel, but he had pledged his support for ?all Oregon? in the 1846 election campaign. Eventually, Polk delivered the British proposal to the Senate, which recommended acceptance. Polk agreed to the Senate?s recommendation. A treaty was signed on June 18, 1846. The Oregon Territory included all of what is now Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and a section of Montana, but later these became separate territories.
( Millbrook p.70-73 )

The Caroline, which was a privately owned American ship seized and destroyed by Canadian troops on the American side of the Niagara River off Grand Island, New York, on December 29, 1837 caused tension between Britain and America. The incident, in which one American was killed, occurred during a rebellion in Upper Canada and threatened to cause war between the United States and Britain. The steamer had been used by American sympathizers to carry supplies to a party of Canadian rebels on Navy Island, above Niagara Falls. In 1840 Britain asserted that the destruction of the Caroline was a legitimate act of war. The U.S., however, repeatedly demanded redress on the grounds that the Canadians had invaded U.S. territory in time of peace. The matter came to a crisis during the same year when a Canadian deputy sheriff visiting the U.S. boasted of participating in the affair and was tried for murder in a New York State court. In spite of the demand of the British ministry for his release, the trial continued; war between the two nations was prevented only by his acquittal. Peaceful relations between Britain and the U.S. were finally restored in 1842 with the signing of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, in which Great Britain expressed regret for failing to make an immediate apology for the Caroline affair.

( )

In 1841 the Creole affair added new tension. The British were fighting the slave trade, and captured an American ship that was in hands of mutineers, one white passenger had been killed; the British punished the murderers but refused to return the 130 Virginia slaves, who were granted asylum.

The Webster-Asburton treaty in 1842 was a major accomplishment of the Tyler administration because it solved a series of potentially dangerous disputes with Great Britain. The imprecision of the Treaty of Paris, 1783 spawned serious boundary disputes between British Canada and the U.S. Overlapping claims around Maine involved over 12,000 square miles. In addition to the northeastern tangle, another difference developed over the correct boundary line between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods.

In 1827 Britain and the U.S. agreed to let the King of the Netherlands arbitrate the issue, and he divided the disputed territory equally between the two claimants. The U.S. Senate rejected the proposal. In the 1838-39 "Aroostook War" rival lumberjacks and land agents from New Brunswick and Maine clashed. Authorities on both sides of the border mobilized the militia, and Congress appropriated $10 million for the defense of Maine.

Secretary of State Daniel Webster, an Anglophile, and the British ambassador Ashburton were eager to avoid war over "a few miles more or less of a miserable pine swamp". They met and divided the contested area. The U.S. received 7,000 square miles to Britain's 5,000 -- Britain received an important road to its eastern provinces, and the President could get Senate approval for the treaty because the U.S. received more land than Britain. Ashburton also yielded some 6,500 square miles of territory between Lake Superior and the Lake of the Woods to the Americans. The Webster-Ashburton Treaty terminated an era of accumulating grievances between the U.S. and Britain, and it opened the way for steady improvement in American-British relations.
( Robert V Hines " John Mack Faracher p 199-200)

British American relations during the 1840?s did not end up causing a war but they did cause tension. A good thing came out of this period. New boundary?s replaced old disputed ones and the US gained more land. The relations also improved when the British repealed the Navigation acts.


1.? The Conquest of the West ? Millbrook.

2.? The American West, and the course of American Democracy? Robert V Hines " John Mack Faracher

3.? Andrew Jackson ? Remini.

british american relations during couple disputes that could have cause with britain main things british americans disagreed over were borders ownership territory because manifest destiny mentality americans they thought that territory west belonged would belong main territory dispute oregon which could have went worse could have started with britain caroline affair also because taken invasion onto soil from canada which british controlled creole case also caused tension even though these tension causing events were occurring britain america were progressing towards more defined borders improvement relations also shown repeal navigation acts july edition york democratic review contained editorial john sullivan written specifically support annexation texas sullivan article introduced phrase that excitedly adopted supporters western expansion manifest destiny manifest destiny overspread continent allotted providence free development yearly multiplying millions said sullivan nation approached middle nineteenth century enthusiasm territorial expansion high supporters argued more western land needed provide space americans created high birth rate increased immigration they pointed land governed mexico sparsely populated mostly unproductive supporters argued land should given american settlers better democrats most vocal western expansion presidential election democratic candidate james polk defeated whig rival henry clay polk would serve only term four years office much philosophy into action ramini agreed joint occupation oregon this arrangement worked well while most areas white inhabitants traders operating along coast hundreds settlers began moving into region along famous oregon trail many called their governments claim just parallel latitude reoccupation held convention cincinnati ohio conventioneers william allen coined phrase fifty four fight conventions belief should back claim with force necessary move might mean another between america government bowed public pressure took action question congress authorized president polk inform joint occupation region fact this action might cause meant little those wanted value fallen when trade ceased profitable therefore willing compromise many people continued fifty four fight despite fact only settled north president favored proposal divide parallel pledged support election campaign eventually delivered proposal senate which recommended acceptance agreed senate recommendation treaty signed june included what washington idaho section montana later these became separate territories millbrook caroline privately owned american ship seized destroyed canadian troops side niagara river grand island york december caused tension between america incident killed occurred during rebellion upper canada threatened cause between united states steamer been used sympathizers carry supplies party canadian rebels navy island above niagara falls asserted destruction caroline legitimate however repeatedly demanded redress grounds canadians invaded time peace matter came crisis during same year when canadian deputy sheriff visiting boasted participating affair tried murder york state court spite demand ministry release trial continued nations prevented only acquittal peaceful relations finally restored signing webster ashburton treaty great expressed regret failing make immediate apology affair http home nvsageh hist part html creole added fighting slave trade captured ship hands mutineers white passenger been killed punished murderers refused return virginia slaves granted asylum webster asburton treaty major accomplishment tyler administration because solved series potentially dangerous disputes great imprecision paris spawned serious boundary disputes canada overlapping claims around maine involved over square miles addition northeastern tangle another difference developed over correct boundary line lake superior lake woods agreed king netherlands arbitrate issue divided disputed equally claimants senate rejected proposal aroostook rival lumberjacks agents from brunswick maine clashed authorities both sides border mobilized militia congress appropriated million defense maine secretary state daniel webster anglophile ambassador ashburton eager avoid miles more less miserable pine swamp they divided contested area received square miles received important road eastern provinces president approval received than ashburton yielded some square lake superior woods terminated accumulating grievances opened steady improvement robert hines john mack faracher causing good thing came this period boundary replaced disputed ones gained improved when repealed navigation acts bibliography conquest west millbrook west course democracy robert hines john mack faracher andrew jackson remini http home nvsageh hist part html

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