Jay’s Treaty [1796]


There shall be a firm, inviolable and universal peace, and a true and sincere friendship between his Britannic Majesty, his heirs and successors, and the United States of America; and between their respective countries, territories, cities, towns and people of every degree, without exception of persons or places.


His Majesty will withdraw all his troops and garrisons from all posts and places within the boundary lines assigned by the treaty of peace to the United States. This evacuation shall take place on or before . . . [June I, 1796,] . . .: The United States in the mean time at their discretion, extending their settlements to any part within the said boundary line, except within the precincts or jurisdiction of any of the said posts. All settlers and traders, within the precincts or jurisdiction of the said posts, shall continue to enjoy, unmolested, all their property of every kind, and shall be protected therein. They shall be at full liberty to remain there, or to remove with all or any part of their effects; and it shall also be free to them to sell their lands, houses, or effects, or to retain the property thereof, at their discretion; such of them as shall continue to reside within the said boundary lines, shall not be compelled to become citizens of the United States, or to take any oath of allegiance to the government thereof; but they shall be at full liberty so to do if they think proper, and they shall make and declare their election within one year after the evacuation aforesaid. And all persons who shall continue there after the expiration of the said year, without having declared their intention of remaining subjects of his Britannic Majesty, shall be considered as having elected to become citizens of the United States.


It is agreed that it shall at all times be free to his Majesty's subjects, and to the citizens of the United States, and also to the Indians dwelling on either side of the said boundary line, freely to pass and repass by land or inland navigation, into the respective territories and countries of the two parties, on the continent of America (the country within the limits of the Hudson's bay Company only excepted) and to navigate all the lakes, rivers and waters thereof, and freely to carry on trade and commerce with each other. But it is understood, that this article does not extend to the admission of vessels of the United States into the sea-ports, harbours, bays, or creeks of his Majesty's said territories; nor into such parts of the rivers in his Majesty's said territories as are between the mouth thereof, and the highest port of entry from the sea, except in small vessels trading bona fide between Montreal and Quebec, under such regulations as shall be established to prevent the possibility of any frauds in this respect. Nor to the admission of British vessels from the sea into the rivers of the United States, beyond the highest ports of entry for foreign vessels from the sea. The river Mississippi shall, however, according to the treaty of peace, be entirely open to both parties; and it is further agreed, that all the ports and places on its eastern side, to whichsoever of the parties belonging, may freely be resorted to and used by both parties, in as ample a manner as any of the Atlantic ports or places of the United States, or any of the ports or places of his Majesty in Great Britain.

All goods and merchandise whose importation into his Majesty's said territories in America, shall not be entirely prohibited, may freely, for the purposes of commerce, be carried into the same in the manner aforesaid, by the citizens of the United States, and such goods and merchandise shall be subject to no higher or other duties, than would be payable by his Majesty's subjects on the importation of the same from Europe into the said territories. And in like manner, all goods and merchandize whose importation into the United States shall not be wholly prohibited, may freely, for the purposes of commerce, be carried into the same, in the manner aforesaid, by his Majesty's subjects, and such goods and merchandise shall be subject to no higher or other duties, than would be payable by the citizens of the United States on the importation of the same in American vessels into the Atlantic ports of the said states. And all goods not prohibited to be exported from the said territories respectively, may in like manner be carried out of the same by the two parties respectively, paying duty as aforesaid.

No duty of entry shall ever be levied by either party on peltries brought by land, or inland navigation into the said territories respectively, nor shall the Indians passing or repassing with their own proper goods and effects of whatever nature, pay for the same any impost or duty whatever. But goods in bales, or other large packages, unusual among Indians, shall not be considered as goods belonging bona fide to Indians.

No higher or other tolls or rates of ferriage than what are or shall be payable by natives, shall be demanded on either side; and no duties shall be payable on any goods which shall merely be carried over any of the portages or carrying-places on either side, for the purpose of being immediately reembarked and carried to some other place or places. But as by this stipulation it is only meant to secure to each party a free passage across the portages on both sides: it is agreed, that this exemption from duty shall extend only to such goods as are carried in the usual and direct road across the portage, and are not attempted to be in any manner sold or exchanged during their passage across the same. . . .


Whereas it is uncertain whether the river Mississippi extends so far to the northward, as to be intersected by a line to be drawn due west from the Lake of the Woods, in the manner mentioned in the treaty of peace between his Majesty and the United States: it is agreed, that measures shall be taken in concert between his Majesty's government in America and the government of the United States, for making a joint survey of the said river from one degree of latitude below the falls of St. Anthony, to the principal source or sources of the said river, and also of the parts adjacent thereto; and that if on the result of such survey, it should appear that the said river, would not be intersected by such a line as is above mentioned, the two parties will thereupon proceed by amicable negociation, to regulate the boundary line in that quarter, as well as all other points to be adjusted between the said parties, according to justice and mutual convenience, and in conformity to the intent of the said treaty.


Whereas doubts have arisen what river was truly intended under the name of the river St. Croix, mentioned in the said treaty of peace, and forming a part of the boundary therein described; that question shall be referred to the final decision of commissioners to be appointed in the following manner, viz. [Each party to choose one commissioner, and these two to choose a third. The commissioners to "decide what river is the river St. Croix, intended by the treaty," and the decision to be final.]


Whereas it is alledged by divers British merchants and others his Majesty's subjects, that debts, to a considerable amount, which were bona fide contracted before the peace, still remain owing to them by citizens or inhabitants of the United States, and that by the operation of various lawful impediments since the peace, not only the full recovery of the said debts has been delayed, but also the value and security thereof have been, in several instances, impaired and lessened, so that by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, the British creditors cannot now obtain, and actually have and receive full and adequate compensation for the losses and damages which they have thereby sustained. It is agreed, that in all such cases, where full compensation for such losses and damages cannot, for whatever reason, be actually obtained, had and received by the said creditors in the ordinary course of justice, the United States will make full and complete compensation for the same to the said creditors: But it is distinctly understood, that this provision is to extend to such losses only as have been occasioned by the lawful impediments aforesaid, and is not to extend to losses occasioned by such insolvency of the debtors, or other causes as would equally have operated to produce such loss, if the said impediments had not existed; nor to such losses or damages as have been occasioned by the manifest delay or negligence, or wilful omission of the claimant.
[Claims to be adjudicated by five commissioners, with powers and duties as herein prescribed. The awards of the commissioners to be final, "both as to the justice of the claim, and to the amount of-the sum to be paid to the creditor or claimant."]


Whereas complaints have been made by divers merchants and others, citizens of the United States, that during the course of the war in which his Majesty is now engaged, they have sustained considerable losses and damage, by reason of irregular or illegal captures or condemnations of their vessels and other property, under colour of authority or commissions from his Majesty, and that from various circumstances belonging to the said cases, adequate compensation for the losses and damages so sustained cannot now be actually obtained, had and received by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings; it is agreed, that in all such cases, where adequate compensation cannot, for whatever reason, be now actually obtained, had and received by the said merchants and others, in the ordinary course of justice, full and complete compensation for the same will be made by the British government to the said complainants. But it is distinctly understood, that this provision is not to extend to such losses or damages as have been occasioned by the manifest delay or negligence, or wilful omission of the claimant.

[Claims to be adjudicated by five commissioners, under like conditions to those stated in Art. VI.]

And whereas certain merchants and others his Majesty's subjects, complain, that in the course of the war they have sustained loss and damage, by reason of the capture of their vessels and merchandise, taken within the limits and jurisdiction of the states, and brought into the ports of the same, or taken by vessels originally armed in ports of the said states.

It is agreed that in all such cases where restitution shall not have been made agreeably to the tenor of the letter from Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Hammond, dated at Philadelphia, Sept. 5, I793, a copy of which is annexed to this treaty; the complaints of the parties shall be and hereby are referred to the commissioners to be appointed by virtue of this article, who are hereby authorized and required to proceed in the like manner relative to these as lo the other cases committed to them....

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Neither the debts due from individuals of the one nation to individuals of the other, nor shares, nor monies which they may have in the public funds, or in the public or private banks, shall ever in any event of war or national differences be sequestered or confiscated. . .


It is agreed between his Majesty and the United States of America, that there shall be a reciprocal and entirely perfect liberty of navigation and commerce between their respective people, in the manner, under the limitations and on the conditions specified in the following articles:


[Art. XII., relating to trade with the West Indies, was suspended by the resolution of the Senate advising ratification, and the suspension was agreed to by Great Britain.]


His Majesty consents that the vessels belonging to the citizens of the United States of America, shall be admitted and hospitably received, in all the sea-ports and harbours of the British territories in the EastIndies. And that the citizens of the said United States, may freely carry on a trade between the said territories and the said United States, in all articles of which the importation or exportation respectively, to or from the said territories, shall not be entirely prohibited. Provided only, that it shall not be lawful for them in any time of war between the British government and any other power or state whatever, to export from the said territories, without the special permission of the British government there, any military stores, or naval stores, or rice. The citizens of the United States shall pay for their vessels when admitted into the said ports no other or higher tonnageduty than shall be payable on British vessels when admitted into the ports of the United States. And they shall pay no other or higher duties or charges, on the importation or exportation of the cargoes of the said vessels, than shall be payable on the same articles when imported or exported in British vessels. But it is expressly agreed, that the vessels of the United States shall not carry any of the articles exported by them from the said British territories, to any port or place, except to some port or place in America, where the same shall be unladen, and such regulations shall be adopted by both parties, as shall from time to time be found necessary to enforce the due and faithful observance of this stipulation. It is also understood that the permission granted by this article, is not to extend to allow the vessels of the United States to carry on any part of the coasting-trade of the said British territories; but vessels going with their original cargoes, or part thereof, from one port of discharge to another, are not to be considered as carrying on the coasting-trade. Neither is this article to be construed to allow the citizens of the said states to settle or reside within the said territories, or to go into the interior parts thereof, without the permission of the British government established there.... And the citizens of the United States, whenever they arrive in any port or harbour in the said territories, or if they should be permitted in manner aforesaid, to go to any other place therein, shall always be subject to the laws, government, and jurisdiction of what nature established in such harbor, port or place, according as the same may be. The citizens of the United States may also touch for refreshment at the island of St. Helena, but subject in all respects to such regulations as the British government may from time to time establish there.


There shall be between all the dominions of his Majesty in Europe and the territories of the United States, a reciprocal and perfect liberty of commerce and navigation. The people and inhabitants of the two countries respectively, shall have liberty freely and securely, and without hindrance and molestation, to come with their ships and cargoes to the lands, countries, cities, ports, places and rivers, within the dominions and territories aforesaid, to enter into the same, to resort there, and to remain and reside there, without any limitation of time. Also to hire and possess houses and ware-houses for the purposes of their commerce, and generally the merchants and traders on each side, shall enjoy the most complete protection and security for their commerce; but subject always as to what respects this article to the laws and statutes of the two countries respectively.


It is agreed that no other or higher duties shall be paid by the ships or merchandise of the one party in the ports of the other, than such as are paid by the like vessels or merchandise of all other nations. Nor shall any other or higher duty be imposed in one country on the importation of any articles the growth, produce or manufacture of the other, than are or shall be payable on the importation of the like articles being of the growth, produce, or manufacture of any other foreign country Nor shall any prohibition be imposed on the exportation or importation of any articles to or from the territories of the two parties respectively, which shall not equally extend to all other nations. But the British government reserves to itself the right of imposing on American vessels entering into the British ports in Europe, a tonnage duty equal to that which shall be payable by British vessels in the ports of America: And also such duty as may be adequate to countervail the difference of duty now payable on the importation of European and Asiatic goods, when imported into the United States in British or in American vessels.

The two parties agree to treat for the more exact equalization of the duties on the respective navigation of their subjects and people, in such manner as may be most beneficial to the two countries.... In the interval it is agreed, that the United States will not impose any new or additional tonnage duties ore British vessels, nor increase the now subsisting difference between the duties payable on the importation of any articles in British or in American vessels.


[Provides for the appointment of consuls.]


It is agreed, that in all cases where vessels shall be captured or detained on just suspicion of having on board enemy's property, or of carrying to the enemy any of the articles which are contraband of war; the said vessel shall be brought to the nearest or most convenient port; and if any property of an enemy should be found on board such vessel, that part only which belongs to the enemy shall be made prize, and the vessel shall be at liberty to proceed with the remainder without any impediment....


In order to regulate what is in future to be esteemed contraband of war, it is agreed, that under the said denomination shall
be comprised all arms and implements sewing for the purposes of war, by land or sea, such as cannon, muskets, mortars, petards, bombs, grenades, carcasses, saucisses, carriages for cannon, musket rests, bandoliers, gun-powder, match, saltpetre, ball, pikes, swords, headpieces, cuirasses, halberts, lances, javelins, horsefurniture, holsters, belts, and generally all other implements of war; as also timber for ship-building, tar or rosin, copper in sheets, sails, hemp, and cordage, and generally whatever may serve directly to the equipment of vessels, unwrought iron and fir planks only excepted; and all the above articles are hereby declared to be just objects of confiscation, whenever they are attempted to be carried to an enemy.

And whereas the difficulty of agreeing on the precise cases in which alone provisions and other articles not generally contraband may be regarded as such, renders it expedient to provide against the inconveniences and misunderstandings which might thence arise: It is further agreed, that whenever any such articles so becoming contraband, according to the existing laws of nations, shall for that reason be seized, the same shall not be confiscated, but the owners thereof shall be speedily and completely indemnified; and the captors, or in their default, the government under whose authority they act, shall pay to the masters or owners of such vessels, the full value of all such articles, with a reasonable mercantile profit thereon, together with the freight, and also the demurrage incident to such detention.
And whereas it frequently happens that vessels sail for a port or place belonging to an enemy, without knowing that the same is either besieged, blockaded or invested; it is agreed, that every vessel so circumstanced, may be turned away from such port or place, but she shall not be detained, nor her cargo, if not contraband, be confiscated, unless after notice she shall again attempt to enter; but she shall be permitted to go to any other port or place she may think proper; Nor shall any vessel or goods of either party, that may have entered into such port or place, before the same was besieged, blockaded, or invested by the other, and be found therein after the reduction or surrender of such place, be liable to confiscation, but shall be restored to the owners or proprietors thereof.


And that more abundant care may be taken for the security of the respective subjects and citizens of the contracting parties, and to prevent their suffering injuries by the men of war, or privateers of either party, all commanders of ships of war and privateers, and all others the said subjects and citizens, shall forbear doing any damage to those of the other party, or committing any outrage against them, and if they act to the contrary, they shall be punished, and shall also be bound in their persons and estates to make satisfaction and reparation for all damages, and the interest thereof, of whatever nature the said damages may be...

It is likewise agreed, that the subjects and citizens of the two nations, shall not do any acts of hostility or violence against each other, nor accept commissions or instructions so to act from any foreign prince or state, enemies to the other party; nor shall the enemies of one of the parties be permitted to invite, or endeavor to enlist in their military service, any of the subjects or citizens of the other party; and the laws against all such offenses and aggressions shall be punctually executed. And if any subject or citizen of the said parties respectively, shall accept any foreign commission, or letters of marque, for arming any vessel to act as a privateer against the other party, and be taken by the other party, it is hereby declared to be lawful for the said party, to treat and punish the said subject or citizen, having such commission or letters of marque, as a pirate.


It is expressly stipulated, that neither of the said contracting parties will order or authorize any acts of reprisal against the other, on complaints of injuries or damages, until the said party shall first have presented to the other a statement thereof, verified by competent proof and evidence, and demanded justice and satisfaction, and the same shall either have been refused or un reasonably delayed.


The ships of war of each of the contracting parties shall, at all times, be hospitably received in the ports of the other, their officers and crews paying due respect to the laws and government of the country.... And his Majesty consents, that in case an American vessel should, by stress of weather, danger from enemies or other misfortune, be reduced to the necessity of seeking shelter in any of his Majesty's ports, into which such vessel could not in ordinary cases claim to be admitted, she shall, on manifesting that necessity to the satisfaction of the government of the place, be hospitably received and be permitted to refit, and to purchase at the market price, such necessaries as she may stand in need of, conformably to such orders and regulations as the government of the place, having respect to the circumstances of each case, shall prescribe. She shall not be allowed to break bulk or unload her cargo, unless the same should be bona fide necessary to her being refitted. Nor shall be permitted to sell any part of her cargo, unless so much only as may be necessary to defray her expences, and then not without the express permission of the government of the place. Nor shall she be obliged to pay any duties whatever, except only on such articles as she may be permitted to sell for the purpose aforesaid.


It shall not be lawful for any foreign privateers (not being subjects or citizens of either of the said parties) who have commissions from any other prince or state in enmity with either nation, to arm their ships in the ports of either of the said parties, nor to sell what they have taken, nor in any other manner to exchange the same; nor shall they be allowed to purchase more provisions, than shall be necessary for their going to the nearest port of that prince or state from whom they obtained their commissions.


It shall be lawful for the ships of war and privateers belonging to the said parties respectively, to carry whithersoever they please,
the ships and goods taken from their enemies, without being obliged to pay any fee to the officers of the admiralty, or to any judges whatever; nor shall the said prizes when they arrive at, and enter the ports of the said parties, be detained or seized, neither shall the searchers or other officers of those places visit such prizes, (except for the purpose of preventing the carrying of any part of the cargo thereof on shore in any manner contrary to the established laws of revenue, navigation or commerce) nor shall such officers take cognizance of the validity of such prizes; but they shall be at liberty to hoist sail, and depart as speedily as may be, and carry their said prizes to the place mentioned in their commissions or patents, which the commanders of the said ships of war or privateers shall be obliged to show. No shelter or refuge shall be given in their ports to such as have made a prize upon the subjects or citizens of either of the said parties; but if forced by stress of weather, or the dangers of the sea, to enter therein, particular care shall be taken to hasten their departure, and to cause them to retire as soon as possible. Nothing in this treaty contained shall, however, be construed or operate contrary to former and existing public treaties with other sovereigns or states. But the two parties agree, that while they continue in amity, neither of them will in future make any treaty that shall be inconsistent with this or the preceding article.
Neither of the said parties shall permit the ships or goods belonging to the subjects or citizens of the other, to be taken within cannon-shot of the coast, nor in any of the bays, ports, or rivers of their territories, by ships of war, or others having commission from any prince, republic, or state whatever....


If at any time a rupture should take place, (which God forbid) between his Majesty and the United States, the merchants and others of each of the two nations, residing in the dominions of the other, shall have the privilege of remaining and continuing their trade, so long as they behave peaceably, and commit no offense against the laws; and in case their conduct should render them suspected, and the respective governments should think proper to order them to remove, the term of twelve months front the publication of the order shall be allowed them for that purpose, to remove with their families, effects and property; but this favour shall not be extended to those who shall act contrary to the established laws; . . . such rupture shall not be deemed to exist, while negotiations for accommodating differences shall be depending, nor until the respective ambassadors or ministers, if such there shall be, shall be recalled, or sent home on account of such differences....


[Provides for the extradition of persons charged with murder or forgery.]


It is agreed, that the first ten articles of this treaty shall be permanent, and that the subsequent articles, except the twelfth, shall be limited in their duration to twelve years, to be computed from the day on which the ratifications of this treaty shall be exchanged. ...